On November 17, 2018, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted bye-elections in three federal constituencies namely Toro Federal Constituency in Bauchi state, Irepodun/Isin/Eiti and Oke-Ero Federal Constituency in Kwara state, Kankia/Kusada/Ingawa Federal constituency in Katsina state and one state constituency in Cross River State, Ikom state constituency. The bye-election was conducted to fill vacant seats in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly.
YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote deployed 14 roving observers to each of the Local Government areas within the respective federal constituencies in the three states of Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara. Watching The Vote adopted traditional election observation methodology and did not deploy the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for the observation of the bye-election. The observers used a specially designed checklist to observe both the process of the voting and counting at the polling units and the collation of result at the LGA result collation centres. The observation reports were sent via coded messages to a central database in Abuja. The observers were deployed to each of the eight (8) LGAs where the bye-elections were conducted and required to visit a minimum of 5 polling units in each LGA.
- Poor management of election logistics: Watching The Vote observers reported poor logistics management in Toro Federal Constituency of Bauchi state. Our observers noted some challenges with the transportation of adhoc officials and election materials from the Registration Area Camps (RACs) to the polling units on election day resulting to late opening of polls in some of the polling units in Toro LGA in Bauchi State. In some cases, NYSC members had to make personal transportation arrangements to convey materials to polling stations.
- Election Security administration: Watching The Vote observed the absence of proper coordination in the management of election security. As reported from Bauchi state, inter agency rivalry between the Nigerian Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Customs service and Federal Road Safety Corps resulted in confusion in deployment and payment of allowance to officers deployed for the election.
- Poor welfare of INEC adhoc officials: As observed by the Watching The Vote observers, members of the National Youth Corps Service (NYSC) deployed to serve as ad hoc officials for the bye-election were subjected to poor welfare conditions. The RACs were not equipped with adequate facilities to cater to the welfare needs of the youth corp members on the eve of the elections. Poor handling of welfare demotivates the youth corp members and makes them vulnerable to enticement from politicians or individuals with vested interest.
- Unnecessary show of force by police officers: While security deployment remains fundamental in protecting lives and properties, it is important for security personnel deployed for elections to respect the right of the people to cast their votes freely and also ensure polling officials administer elections without any form of intimidation, harassment or disruption. WTV observed incidences where security agents intimidated adhoc officials and voters. In some polling stations, security officials show up at polling stations with live ammunitions. This runs contrary to electoral guidelines and global standards for free and fair elections.
- Voter turnout: The bye-election recorded an abysmally low turnout of voters. Official data indicates the turnout rate for Bauchi 21.6%, Katsina 38% and Kwara 24.4%. The trend of a minority determining electoral outcomes and political leadership needs to be reversed.
- Vote buying and Secrecy of the ballot: WTV observers noted that the secrecy of the ballot was compromised in some polling stations. Despite the reconfiguration of the polling unit, people could see how voters marked their ballot papers. WTV observers reported incidence of vote buying in polling stations across the three federal constituencies observed.
Watching the Vote Election Day Findings Accreditation and Voting
- By 9:00am, accreditation and voting commenced in most polling units in the Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara state bye-elections.
- An average of 5 INEC officials were seen in all polling units that WTV observers visited and, on the average, 2 were women.
- APC and PDP party agents were seen in most of the polling units that WTV observers visited in Bauchi.
- APC, PDP and PRP party agents were seen in most of the polling units that WTV observers visited in Katsina.
- APC, PDP, PPN and UPN party agents were seen in most of the polling units that WTV observers visited in Kwara.
- Most of polling units visited in Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara had security agents present. However, WTV observers did not sight security agents at PU 15/1/ Magama Gumau Dada II, Tila Toro LGA, PU 9/2 Kofar Mai Unguwa, Tilden Fulani in Toro LGA and PU 14/1 Magama Gumau Fada II.
- Card readers were observed in all polling units visited in Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara States bye elections. All essential materials which includes the: register of voters, indelible ink-marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, Form EC.8A Statement of Results and Form EC.40H Voter Information, were present as at the time WTV observers visited.
- The card reader functioned throughout during the time the WTV observers visited the polling units.
- No one was accredited to vote who did not have a PVC as at the time of our observation.
- In all the polling units visited, each voter’s PVC was checked against the Register of Voters.
- No one was accredited to vote who did not have a PVC as at the time of our observation.
- In all the polling units visited, every potential voter’s permanent voter card (PVC) and fingerprint was checked by the card reader, as at the time of our observation.
- In all polling units observed, Indelible ink was applied to the cuticle of voters within the time WTV observer visited the respective polling units. Voters were also seen to be given a ballot paper that are stamped, signed and dated by INEC polling official.
- Most polling units visited in Bauchi state were set up so no one could see how the voters marked their ballot papers. However, polling units 009/02 Kofar Mai Unguwa, Tilden Fulani, Toro LGA, Bauchi state and 06/01 New Post Office, Osi, Ekiti LGA, Kwara state were set up that someone one could see how the voters marked their ballot papers. In addition, many polling units in the LGAs where the bye-elections were conducted in Katsina State were set in such a way that people could see how voters marked their choices. For instance, in five (5) polling units visited in Ingawa LGA, Katsina State, WTV observed that people could see how the voters marked their ballot papers.
Results Collation Centers Findings
- An average of 7 INEC collation officials were present at the seven (7) LGA results collation centers that WTV observed, on the average 1 was a woman;
- Security personnel were deployed to all the LGA collation centers that WTV observers deployed to;
- APC & PDP party agents were seen at the LGA Collation center in Bauchi;
- APC, PDP & PRP party agents were seen at the LGA Collation centers in Katsina;
- APC & PDP party agents were seen at the LGA Collation centers in Kwara;
- In all the collation centers that WTV observed, Form EC 8Bs (Result Sheet) for all the wards were submitted to the collation officer;
- In all the LGA results collation centers that WTV observed, INEC officials collated the results by entering the votes in the original form EC 8C in words and figures.
- In all the collation centers that WTV observed, INEC official dated and signed the results forms
- APC & PDP party agents countersigned the results form at the LGA Collation center in Bauchi;
- APC, PDP & PRP party agents countersigned the results form at the LGA Collation centers in Katsina;
- APC & PDP party agents countersigned the results form at the LGA Collation centers in Kwara;
- INEC collation officials distributed copies of the form EC 8Cs to all party agents and security personnel present, in all the collation centers that WTV observed;
- An official completed the notice of result of poll poster EC 60E and displayed in six (6) of the seven (7) LGA results collation centers that WTV Observed. INEC collation officials did not post the copy of the results form for the public to see, in Kusada LGA collation center in Katsina State.
- There was no incident of intimidation, harassment or violence against voters, election officials, party agents, observers or security personnel in all the collation centers that WTV observed.
- There was no attempt to disrupt the collation process in all the centers that WTV observed.
- Incidents of Vote buying or bribery were reported in:
- Bauchi, Toro LGA in: Tilden Fulani Ward 2, PU Name – Kofar Mai-Unguwa, PU code 009; Katsina, Ingawa LGA, Yandoma Ward 2, Wangari PU, PU cood002;
- Katsina, Ingawa LGA in: Dugul Ward, PU – Dukuma TV Viewing Center, PU Code 005;
- Kwara, Ekiti LGA in: Osi Ward 01, PU Name – Post Office, PU Code 006; Kwara, Irepodun LGA, Oum-Aran Ward 06, PU Name – St. Paul Omu-Aran, PU Code 010;
- Kwara, Oke-Ero LGA in: Ekan-Nla Ward 02, PU Name – Oke Ilegun, PU Code 004.
- Threat of Violence:
- In 019, Magama Gani Primary school, Toro LGA, a party agent held polling official’s hostage and destroyed ballot papers during counting. The election at the PU was cancelled.
- Election Logistics Management: The success of every election depends on the ability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to properly manage elections operations and logistics as well as ensure that every plan includes a detailed framework to cater to the needs of personnel deployed for elections. YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote calls on INEC to ensure adequate planning for election logistics. The commission should thoroughly investigate the reasons for the logistical challenges in the Toro federal constituency election and take appropriate action to avert sabotage of logistic arrangements during the 2019 general elections.
- Welfare of Ad-Hoc Officials: INEC needs to demonstrate commitment to the welfare of adhoc officials especially the NYSC members through early planning and adequate funding for welfare. Watching The Vote calls on INEC to institute an efficient mechanism to enforce and monitor the implementation of welfare plan for adhoc officials.
- Transparency and accountability in election security management: There’s need for greater coordination and transparency in the management of election security. To facilitate planning, security agencies should share deployment plans with INEC in a timely manner. All security agencies must uphold the principles of patriotism, neutrality, professionalism, accountability and mutual respect in election security operations. Interagency rivalry is a threat to peaceful and credible elections.
- Strict compliance with electoral law and guidelines: Watching The Vote calls on INEC to ensure polling officials are adequately trained before deployment. To ensure uniformity in compliance with electoral laws and guidelines during elections, the commission should strengthen its oversight/supervision mechanism on election day.
- INEC needs to ensure due diligence in the recruitment of adhoc officials for elections especially Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPOs). Their neutrality and integrity is critical for credibility of electoral outcomes.
YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote commends the voters who turn up to vote in the election for their resilience and peaceful conduct throughout the election. The electoral commission is commended for ensuring a successful election. However, YIAGA AFRICA would like to urge the electoral commission to thoroughly investigate the logistic challenges highlighted in this report as a confidence building measure. The stakes are high for the 2019 election; therefore, INEC and other electoral stakeholders must show commitment to free, fair and credible elections.
Democracy thrives when citizens exercise their right to vote in periodic peaceful and fair elections. YIAGA AFRICA urges security agencies especially the Nigeria police, Department of State Services and the Nigeria army to remain impartial and neutral in the management of election security. Security agencies must respect the constitutional right of citizens to cast their vote without any form of intimidation, harassment or threat.
With the commencement of the political campaigns for the general elections, YIAGA AFRICA expects a fully charged political environment. We wish to remind political parties that healthy and peaceful electoral competition deepens democracy. To this end we urge them to engage citizens in issue-based campaigns and refrain from hate speech and incendiary messages that could destabilize public peace. We call on Nigerians to actively interrogate the manifestoes of candidates and prepare to vote for candidates based on capacity, character and competence.
God Bless Nigeria.
Executive Director YIAGA AFRICA
Member, Watching The Vote Working Group
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