For Immediate Release
Saturday, 23rd March 2019
CLEEN Foundation observed the 2019 Supplementary Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly Elections held on Saturday 23rd March 2019.
It will be recalled that CLEEN Foundation had initially trained and deployed 1,600 stationary and 40 roving observers for previous elections. However, during the supplementary election, CLEEN Foundation deployed 153 observers across the States. We also used the TELLA mobile application to receive real-time information from our field-based INEC accredited observers. Below is our preliminary assessment of the supplementary elections.
3. Arrival of Security Personnel at the Polling Units
From the reports submitted by our field observers, 45.74 percent of security agents arrived before 8:00 am while 30 percent of the personnel arrived before 9:00 am. However, 23 percent arrived before 7:00 am. The high level of punctuality of security personnel is commendable.
4. Deployment and Adequacy of Security Agents
Reports from the field show that 97 percent of the polling units had about three or more security agents. Less than two percent had two officers while one percent of the polling units observed by our observers had just one officer. For example, our Observers in Kano witnessed massive deployment of security agents in Nasarawa and Dala LGAs.
5. Conduct of Security Personnel
Our observers noted that 78 percent of the security agents conducted themselves very well. However, about 10 percent rated their conduct as fair while 12 percent rated it as poor. The state by state rating of the conduct of security personnel indicates that 60 percent of the observers reported poor conduct of security personnel deployed for election duty in Kano State. 27 percent of the observers rated the conduct of the security personnel on election duty in Kogi as poor while observers in Bauchi and Sokoto States recorded positive conduct of security personnel in comparison with Kano and Kogi States.
6. Feeling of Safety and Security at the polling units
Our Observers noted that 80 percent of the polling units were safe and secure while about 20 percent polling units were not. Only 20 percent of observers in Kano State reported that the polling units were safe and secure.
7. Threats at the Polling Units
Observers reported that 90 percent of security agents deployed on election duty were seen to be impartial. However less than 10 percent of the security agents were seen to be partial during the exercise.
8. Presence of Armed Security Agents at the Polling Units
Our observers noted the presence of armed security personnel in 50 percent of the polling units. While 47 percent of the polling units had unarmed security agents. A breakdown of the presence of armed security personnel at polling units across the states shows that Bauchi state had the highest number of deployment of armed security agents followed by Kano. Despite the significant presence of armed security personnel, observers reported that most of them did not constitute security threat to voters.
9. General Observations
· Reported deaths
Deaths were reported in Benue and Kano states.At Chito Ward, Ukum LGA of Benue State, two persons were killed while 5 security personnel were missing during the incident. In addition, one person was reported killed in Takai LGA by suspected political thugs.
· Incidents of Security Breaches
Cases of violent attack were recorded in Dala LGA of Kano state. Suspected thugs attacked a politician at PU 042, Bulikiya Primary Ward, Dala LGA, Kano State. Our observers reported that party agents chased away any person who intended to vote against a particular political party in Kano State. Similarly, in PU Code 042, Bulikiya Primary in Dala LGA of Kano State, political thugs of a political party brutally attacked and injured a former Kano State house of assembly member during the electoral process. Similarly, our observer at PU Code 020, Kofar Idi Balarebe, Yalwa Ward in Dala LGA reported seeing potential voters being scared away by party thugs in the presence of security personnel on election duty. In addition, in PU 061, Sabuwar Gama Ward in Nassarawa LGA, observers noted that party agents and political thugs chased away potential voters and agents at the polling unit. We also received reports that vehicles belonging to different party loyalists were destroyed in Makorda LGA of Kano as a means of intimidating them.
· Unprofessional Conduct by Security Officers
In Sarkin Musulmi Hubbare, PU 009 of Sokoto North LG of Sokoto state, our observer noted that the security officers on duty resorted to the use of force to maintain orderliness in the polling unit. The security personnel used teargas, sticks and cane on voters.
· Destruction of election materials
At Dala LGA, PU 042 in Kano State, our observers noted the destruction of election materials by suspected thugs. Also, at Azendeshi ward, Ukum LGA, our observer reported an attack on the vehicle carrying election materials in Ukum LGA of Benue state and subsequent destruction of election materials.
· Safety and Security of Observers
Some of observers were harassed and intimated by security agents while carrying out their lawful duties. For example, in Galadima PU 001, Dogondaji/salah Ward 07, Tambuwal LGA of Sokoto State, a Mobile Police Officer tore the INEC identification card of an observer. In addition, election observers were also deprived of the use of their electronic recording devices for the exercise. Notably, this incident happened in PU 061, Gama Sabuwa, Gama Ward. Nasarawa LGA; PU 020, Kofar Idi Balarebe, Yalwa Ward, Dala LGA and PU 002, Gundurawa Primary School PU, Bangarawa Gabas Ward, Munjibir LGA of Kano State. Furthermore, our observers were attacked by suspected thugs at PU 009 Ward Madara Dunari, Katagum LGA of Bauchi State.
· Vote Buying
There were cases of vote buying in Gidan Bawa PU 006 Turba ward at Isa Local government and PU 011 shiyar Aisha, Bodinga LGA both in Sokoto state; Magajin Rafi Ward 08, PU 008, Sokoto North LGA of Sokoto state and in Nasarawa LGA, Dama Ward, PU 035.
10. Conclusion and recommendations
The supplementary elections held on March 23, 2019 to conclude the gubernatorial and state houses of assembly elections manifested improved logistics arrangement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Our observers noted reports of misconducts by officials of security agencies. In addition, several cases of violence were reported in some of the states, especially Kano and Benue states. As the current elections are being concluded, there is the need to pay attention to the urgent need for fundamental electoral reforms. From the foregoing, we make the following recommendations:
· The tribunals should discharge their responsibilities in ensuring redress of electoral grievances.
· INEC should collate and study reports of domestic and international observers in order to identify necessary reforms towards free, credible and fair elections.
· The executive and legislative organs of government should cooperate in undertaking fundamental reforms of the electoral process to ensure violence free and fair elections.
· There is need to revisit the report of the electoral reform committee (Uwais Report, 2008) and the observers report on elections since 2011 and carry out necessary reforms.
· Impediment to free and fair elections in the country can be significantly attributed to the conduct of political parties and politicians. They are responsible for rigging, hiring of thugs that perpetuate electoral violence, inducement of voters and officials including security personnel, invocation of hate speeches as well as igniting ethnic and religious intolerance during elections. Therefore, necessary legislative structure and civic education measures should be undertaken to correct the negative influence and conduct of political parties and politicians in the country’s electoral process.
11. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Benson Olugbuo, Ph.D.