Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD has condemned the conduct of some key stakeholders, including security agents, politicians and their supporters during yesterday’s governorship rerun election in Osun State, saying it “clearly ran contrary to democratic norms and standards, as well as best practices in the conduct of credible elections”.
In a statement released by its director, Idayat Hassan and made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the organisation noted that a number of the incidents recorded during the poll, have undermined the sanctity of the vote and the overall credibility of the electoral process.
CDD, which was established in the United Kingdom in 1997 and subsequently registered in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1999, aims to promote the values of democracy, peace and human rights in Africa, particularly in the West African sub-region
Specifically, the organisation frowned at “the conduct of the security agents as well as political party stalwarts who took steps that were clearly inimical to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election”.
CDD therefore recommended an urgent investigation of the roles and conduct of the security forces and political thugs in the rerun election with a view to sanctioning infractions and preventing a repeat during the 2019 polls.
The director stated that there were several cases of denial of access to polling units to observers, and even voters, adding that CDD field observers deployed to observe the process and ensure its credibility, especially in Orolu and Osogbo local government areas, were intimidated, threatened and in some cases arrested by security forces.
“Credible reports from our field observers showed that despite being duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, several of the observers and journalists were stopped from observing the process.
“CDD observers reported palpable tension in Ifon, Orolu LGAs due to the high-handed conduct of the security agents who seemed bent to sway the vote the way of certain partisan interests.
“At Ajegunle Roundabout, which leads to Polling Unit 003 Ward 9 Gbogbo Primary School in Orolu LGA, security personnel mounted barricades to obstruct observers and deny them access to the polling unit.
“Observers who attempted to carry out their legitimate duties were arrested and taken to nearby police station. They were only released after being denied the opportunity to keep an eye on the process so as to guarantee its credibility.
“For instance, a CDD observer, Kemi Busari was arrested by the police on the pretext that he took pictures around a polling unit. The police officer’s stance contradicts the statement of INEC, which made it clear that voters and participants were allowed to go with their phones to polling units but not to polling booths after ballot paper must have been issued to an accredited voter.
“This particular incident clearly demonstrates the fact that the law enforcement agents were not properly informed about or deliberately ignored the INEC directive, which banned the use of phones in the voting cubicle, not around the overall polling environment. In the face of the intimidation and unjust arrests, observers forced to leave the Polling Units.
“CDD also observed attempts by members of the security forces to prevent some voters who allegedly belong to opposition party from accessing PU012 Olode Ward 07 in Ife South LG, even after showing their PVCs”, she stressed.
Hassan further informed that “despite all efforts by INEC and civic group to ensure violence-free polls, some political actors mobilized thugs and hoodlums to intimidate voters, journalists and observers”.
In terms of the sanctity of the vote, she said CDD observers reported over five attempts by impostors to vote with PVCs from other Wards at PU012 Olode Ward 07 in Ife South LGA.
“In the light of these anti-democratic acts, which have undermined the sanctity of the ballot therefore, we hold strongly the view that the rerun poll of Thursday, September 27, 2018 does not meet up with the minimum standards for free, fair and credible elections. It falls short of global best practices in democratic elections which Nigeria aspires towards”, she stated.