March 9 Polls: CODE Commends INEC for Minimal Logistics Issues, Condemns Spate of Violence

Connected Development (CODE), an INEC Accredited Observer, has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission for addressing logistics issues that marred the Presidential and National Assembly elections, in the just concluded Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections.

CODE, through its election observation technology, Uzabe, had initially reported cases of card reader issues, late resumption of INEC officials—hours after the election was scheduled to begin, incomplete election materials and general unpreparedness of the Election team.

This time, it noted that there were minimal cases of logistics issues at the polling units during the Gubernatorial elections, adding that voting and accrediting were recorded to begin at 9.00 a.m in many polling units.

It, however, condemned the spate of violence that characterised the gubernatorial elections, especially since INEC and the Police had assured Nigerians of better security, stating that records of violence at the gubernatorial election was reportedly higher than the Presidential Election.

“During the gubernatorial elections, Uzabe mapping tool received over 400 reports from on-the-ground observers and online social sentiment analysts. From these reports, Uzabe established 107 election incidents across 25 States.

“The election observation technology reported enhanced Police deployment for the elections early on, until 2 pm when reports started filtering in from Kano, Kogi, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Kano and Borno States respectively”, a statement by CODE’s Communications Officer, Kevwe Oghide revealed.

The statement further stated that there were records of heavy thug mobilization, the influence of political parties at some polling units, vote-buying, voter suppression and destruction of ballot boxes and election materials, as well as records of heavy military deployment and attacks on electoral facilities.

“CODE observers noted that Imo State INEC office was set ablaze; heavy military presence in some areas of Rivers State and electoral facilities in Benue and Ebonyi were set on fire by hoodlums affecting about 65 polling units.

“CODE also recorded voter apathy across the country. In Ekiti State, for instance, INEC Ad-hoc Staff were seen either sleeping or laid-back because voters did not come out en-masse to cast their vote, compared with voters turnout during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

“CODE notes that voter apathy was preempted by voters’ lack of confidence in the electoral process, low voter mobilization, threat of violence and heavy security deployment. The negative impact of this cannot be quantified and must be addressed by electoral institutions” the statement partly read.

Furthermore, CODE’s Chief of Mission on Election Observation, Hamzat Lawal, condemned acts of intimidation, threats and assaults of some journalists and CODE observers by thugs and party loyalists, noting that these observers were severely assaulted for exposing vote-buying and underage voting in Plateau, Taraba, Kano and Nasarawa States.

Lawal, expressed concerns that, “the issues around Election in Nigeria are far from being rectified and these issues continue to threaten the Nation’s democracy. The intentions of political parties to continue to undermine the competence of the Independent National Commission and the Nigerian Police Force reflects our level of unpreparedness in enhancing the autonomy of our electoral process.”

CODE, urged INEC to adopt result-management process using secure technology for result collation and transmission to avoid bottlenecks experienced with collating election results with excel sheets.

It further commended Nigerians, particularly her youth, for their loyalty and resilience in the face of insurmountable pressure. “This election is also a test of the magnanimity of Nigeria’s democratic consolidation and we urge political parties, supporters and Nigerians in general, to maintain peace”.

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