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Tuesday, 12 March 2019

News Africa: Observer Group reveals some polling units were voters were bought over with biscuits

Faith Nwadishi, Ag. Executive Director, CTA
Observer Group reveals some polling units were voters were bought over with biscuits
An observer group, under the auspices of Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), has rated the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections which were conducted on Sunday as poor, lamenting that vote buying largely characterised the process.
According to Faith Nwadishi, Ag. Executive Director, CTA, vote buying took the dimension of either cash or food items.
She said, “There were some examples of polling unit 003 Ukwutia, Utwugwang North in Obudu, Cross River State, Yammah Viewing Centre Unit, Kwali Area Council (FCT), and Dutse Alhaji in the FCT where biscuits were shared to voters to vote a particular candidate.
“In some places, observers reported that husbands were voting for their wives and children for their parents. When these reports were brought to the attention of the security agents on the ground, they looked the other way,” she stated.
Nwadishi, while briefing the media on some of their observations, noted that the election was marked by violence, intervention of the military in some places, and killing of citizens who had come out to exercise their franchise.
“INEC offices in some states were burnt, citizens intimidated, in our opinion, citizens felt they should not lose their lives for participating in election, hence they stayed back at home,” she noted.

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Concerning the low turnout of voters that trailed the exercise in most parts of the country, she said the violence that characterised the recent presidential and National Assembly elections were partly to blame.
According to the group, the reason why many did not find it necessary to come out and perform their civic rights was because their votes in earlier elections did not count, hence they didn’t see the need to come out to cast their votes.
The CTA, which deployed over a thousand observers to various states of the federation, including the FCT, to monitor the electoral process, also attributed the low turnout to irregular elections, especially in states where governorship elections were not holding at the moment.
It, however, commended INEC for improvement in its logistical arrangements which it noted led to early deployment of personnel and materials and early commencement of polls in most polling units.
The group equally carpeted politicians for the role they played in undermining the electoral process in the country, saying it remained a concern to CTA, because as the final beneficiaries of the electoral process they should be seen to help to maintain the credibility of the ballot.
“Party agents were seen on the field without the proper accreditation cards from INEC. They were the chief organisers of the vote buying and electoral fraud across the country,” Nwadishi stated. 

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