On Saturday, June 18, 2022, Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) deployed 500 carefully trained stationary observers and 25 mobile observers to all the 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Ekiti State. To observe the accreditation and voting process as well as to share reports on the general conduct of the election at the polling units level. As noted in Yiaga Africa’s pre-election statement on June 16, this is the first state-wide election to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the new Electoral Act 2022. Therefore, the election presents an opportunity to assess the operational implications of some provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the newly issued INEC guidelines. Other areas of interest include the deployment and functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation, the role of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in determining the conclusiveness of the election and the new framework for election results management. Considering the important role of the data on PVC collection in this election, Yiaga Africa had called on INEC to publish the final data of PVC collection rate for the election but the commission is yet to make public the final data of collected PVCs per polling unit.
Yiaga Africa notes a marked improvement in logistics management for the Ekiti 2022 governorship election. The personnel and essential materials such as Voter Register, BVAS, voting cubicles and ballot box were deployed early in majority of the polling units. However, some polling units recorded late commencement due to late arrival of polling officials. For instance, in PU 001, At Camp (Ila Nla)/Itanla, Ward 13, Ado Ekiti the first vote was cast at 10:35 am. Yiaga Africa also observed non-compliance with the election guidelines in some polling units. According to the INEC guidelines (Section 20(iii)), polling officials were required to tick the appropriate box against a voters name labelled FA (denoting Failed Accreditation) at the left margin of the voter’s detail on the register. Yiaga Africa observed that the voter register deployed to the polling units had no box labelled FA.
Yiaga Africa preliminary statement is based on verified reports from 246 of 250 sampled polling units. Eleven critical incident reports were received and processed within the same time frame. The statement provides data on the commencement of polls, availability of election materials and critical incidents that may impact the quality of the election.
- Early Opening of Polls: Yiaga Africa WTV observed early arrival of polling officials and materials at polling units across the State. As of 7:30 am, Yiaga Africa WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 75% of polling units.
- Early Start of Polls: By 8:30 am, 24% of polling units had commenced accreditation and voting. This, however, increased to 99% by 9:30 am. This is consistent with Yiaga Africa’s observation findings in the 2018 elections, where officials had arrived at 78% of polling units by 7:30 am and 91% of polling units opened by 9:00 am.
Furthermore, the early commencement is an improvement when compared to the Anambra 2021 gubernatorial election where INEC officials were observed in only 17% of polling units by 7:30 am and accreditation and voting had begun by 9:30 am in 28% of polling units.
- Functionality of the BVAS: Yiaga Africa observed the deployment of the BVAS to all polling units. In 94% of the observed polling units, the BVAS functioned properly, however, in 6% of polling units, the BVAS malfunctioned and it was fixed.
In 96% of polling units, the BVAS had zero record for the total number of accredited voters on the BVAS before the commencement of the process.
- Deployment of polling officials: In those polling units where INEC officials and materials arrived, 96% of polling units had more than three polling officials present, and 55% of polling units had at least two female polling officials present.
- Deployment of Party Agents: All Progressives Congress (APC) polling or party agents were seen at 100% of polling units, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at 98% of polling units and Social Democratic Party (SDP) polling agents were seen at 98% of polling units.
- Deployment of Assistive Materials and Set up of Polling Unit: The Braille ballot guides were observed in 61% of polling units, the PWD poster was seen in 66% of polling units and form 40H (PWD voter information and statistics) was seen in 76% of polling units. The polling unit was not set up in a location that allows voters to mark their ballots in secret in 8% of polling units.
Yiaga Africa received and verified the following critical incident reports:
- Voter Inducement/Bribery: Vote buying was reported by WTV observers in Alowodolu / Ojo – The Apostolic P.S Compound with PU code 13/09/04/00 in Ijero Ward D of Ijero LGA. Party agents from APC were reportedly sharing N7,000 to voters who showed how their ballot paper was marked. A similar report on vote buying by APC was received from Open Space At Bamitale Along St. Mary’s Road in Ikere. Also, in Ogidi – in Ipoti Ward A, party agents from PDP and SDP were seen bribing voters. At C. A. C. Gramm. Sch. / Ola Oluwa II with PU code 014 in Ado-Ekiti, APC party agent was also reportedly giving N5000 to voters who confirmed they had voted for the party.
- Polling Unit Not Opened: WTV Observers in Premises of Staff Nur & Pri. School. Balemo, Oke Ila with PU Code 13/01/07/006 in Ado Ekiti reported that as of 12:00 noon neither INEC officials nor materials had arrived at the polling unit.
- Secrecy of the Ballots compromised: Secrecy of the ballot was compromised as people could see how voters marked the ballots in Igede Ward II 13-13-06-014 in Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA. Party agents for the APC, PDP and SDP clustered around the voting cubicle and saw how voters marked their ballot papers.
- Voters Names not found on the BVAS: Yiaga Africa also received reports of missing names of registered voters on the BVAS. The voters were prevented from voting despite holding INEC issued PVCs.
- Ballot Box Snatching: Yiaga Africa also received reports of ballot box snatching in two polling units with codes 13/05/06/005 and 007 in Ilawe Ward IV, near St. Patrick’s School.
In view of the foregoing, Yiaga Africa WTV makes the following preliminary recommendations:
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
- To safeguard the transparency of the election results collation and counting process, Yiaga Africa WTV urges INEC to publish the disaggregated data of the number of PVCs collected per polling unit before the end of Polls.
- INEC should audit the newly created polling units and ensure equitable distribution of voters tothe polling unit. In cases, where voters have been allotted to new polling units, INEC should update the voter records on it’s website and communicate the changes to prevent voter disenfranchisement.
- Security agencies should ensure security personnel remain professional and non-partisan throughout the election.
- As the election progresses, security personnel should ensure the secrecy of the vote is protected and enforce appropriate sanctions for any form of violation of the Electoral Act on Election Day, especially any threat to the right to vote or attempts to buy votes.
- Security agencies should respect the rights of citizens, media, and observers, including the right to freedom of movement on Election Day for duly accredited observers and media practitioners.
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
- Yiaga Africa commends the EFCC for the arrests made of people buying votes. We call on the officials of EFCC deployed to ensure full prosecution of individuals caught in the act of vote buying/voter inducement.
In conclusion, Yiaga Africa commends the good people of Ekiti State for their peaceful conduct during the voting process. We urge the voters to remain patient and peaceful through the voting and counting process. Yiaga Africa will provide updates as the voting process comes to an end and the results collation commences.
Yiaga Africa restates its commitment to sharing accurate data and information on the conduct of the election and results based on its deployment of the Parallel Vote Tabulation methodology. If INEC’s official results fall within Yiaga Africa’s estimated rate, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at the polling units; however, if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the polling units’ results, Yiaga Africa will expose it.
Watching the Vote is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”
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Samson Itodo Ezenwa Nwagwu
Executive Director Board Member
Yiaga Africa Yiaga Africa
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