To be released
CLEEN FOUNDATION ELECTION SECURITY SUPPORT CENTRE INTERIM STATEMENT ON THE NOVEMBER 11 OFF-CYCLE ELECTIONS IN KOGI, BAYELSA, AND IMO STATES
CLEEN Foundation as an independent observer, monitored the off-cycle on November 11th held in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa States with a keen focus on assessing the overall election security measures. Our role was to provide an impartial evaluation of the electoral process to ensure transparency and public confidence. Despite the evident distrust and pre-election violence witnessed across Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa states, the citizens of these states demonstrated resilience and confidence in the electoral process by turning out to cast their votes. Voters patiently waited at the various polling stations to vote and exercise their democratic rights.
In view of the data from the Election Security Support Centre (ESSC), CLEEN Foundation wishes to commend the security agencies across the states that displayed professionalism in managing security situations that arose from the conduct of the elections. It is also noteworthy that as of the time of this report, there were no reported cases of indictment of security personnel involved in the disruptions of the elections except for alleged fake police officers arrested in Kogi state.
- General Election Security Management
CLEEN Foundation observed that the general management of the Election Security was good across the three states however there are observations that provide room for improvement in future election security management.
- Deployment of Security Personnel: Data from CLEEN Foundation ESSC indicated there was a noticeable presence of security personnel at polling stations, collation centers, and strategic locations. This proactive deployment contributed to a sense of security among voters and facilitated the orderly conduct of the electoral process.
- Early Arrival of Security Personnel: The ESSC data showed that over 90% of security personnel were early at the polling unit in the three states however there were 8% late arrivals and 2% absence of security personnel at the polling unit in the states. In Bayelsa, Kolokuma/opokuma, ward 4, PU 001 Ikatebiri Town Hall 1, Imo, Ohaji/Egbeme LGA, Ohoba ward, PU 019, Ngor Okpala, ward 11, 10, Orlu/mgbee/govt, PU 007 & 20 and Kogi, Ajaokuta, ward Ganaja, PU 067, security personnel were observed to have been visibly absent at the polling units.
- Conduct of Security Personnel: The overall conduct of security personnel was good as they were quite civil, fair and firm at the polling unit and made efforts to maintain law and order at the polling unit except in a few polling units where disruptions were recorded in the presence of security personnel. In Kogi state, the security personnel arrested persons with arms and pre-filled result sheets, gunned down thugs that snatched ballot boxes and arrested alleged fake police officers.
Despite the above good efforts of the security personnel, CLEEN Foundation observed across the three states the inaction of security personnel at the polling unit in the face of voters trading and disruption of votes. This was considered to be in compliance to the provisions of the Electoral Act.
- Disruption of Election/Ballot Box Snatching: CLEEN Foundation observed ugly incidents of ballot box snatching in Kogi state which the security personnel responded appropriately. Similarly, in Imo state, the result sheet was snatched without any response from the security personnel at the polling unit. In Bayelsa, thugs carted election materials in Sagbama LGA with no resistance from the security personnel. Also, in Sagbama LGA, Ward 5, PU 005, there was a community conspiracy which resulted in electoral materials being carted away, this act was replicated in southern Ijaw where political thugs disrupted voting. Furthermore, in Bayelsa State, Yenegoa LGA, ward 7, unit 8, political parties scattered voting materials, which led to the disruption of the process. However, security agencies showed aptitude when they calmed an up-row capable of disrupting the elections caused by voters, party agents and INEC officials in Kogi, Ajaokuta LGA, ward Ganaja, PU 067.
- Response to Security Incidents:In instances where security incidents were reported, the response from law enforcement agencies was prompt and effective. The professionalism displayed by security personnel in managing and resolving these incidents contributed to maintaining a peaceful environment.
- Killings during the elections:
CLEEN Foundation observed a record of two deaths in Kogi state. The two alleged thugs were gunned down by security personnel to foil their attempt to snatch the ballot box.
- Poor Voter Turnout
Similarly, CLEEN ESSC observed poor voter turnout across the 3 states despite the early arrival of INEC and security agents in most of the polling units except in Imo state where polls commenced mostly after the official time of 8:30 am. In Imo, INEC officials were visibly seen waiting for voters to come to the polls, while in Kogi and Bayelsa, voter turnout was encouraging.
- Functionality of BVAs
CLEEN Foundation ESSC observed that BVAS functioned optimally in most polling units across the three States. However, there were reports of malfunctioning of some of the BVAs. In Ukwaja, Idah LGA, Ward A, PU 094, The BVAs failed to capture both facial and fingerprints. More so in Ekeremor LGA, ward 8, PU 38, the BVAs failed to function, however the RAC technicians fixed the challenge and voting commenced.
- Vote Trading:
CLEEN Foundation ESSC observed massive vote trading across Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa state. In Bayelsa, Ogbia LGA, ward 6, PU 02, Nembe ward 1, PU1, Ogbia LGA, Ward 6, PU 02, 06, and 05 votes sold between 15,000 to 50,000 Naira. In Imo state, Owerri West, Ward 10, Ohi 005, and in Ngor Okpala LGA, ward 4, PU019, it was observed that INEC officials/ad-hoc staff and security agents were seen engaging in vote trading while in Kogi state, Adavi LGA, ward Nagazi Farm Centre, PU044, vote was sold for as low as 1,500 naira, wrappers, bread, soft drinks and, snacks.
- Continuous Training for both security Personnel and all Election stakeholders:We recommend ongoing training programs for security personnel and other stakeholders in the value chain of the elections to enhance their capacity in managing election-related situations, ensuring professionalism, and upholding the rights of citizens.
- Community Engagement:Encouraging community leaders and citizens to actively participate in promoting peaceful elections is crucial. Public awareness campaigns on the importance of maintaining calm during elections should be intensified.
- Post-election Review:A comprehensive review of the election security measures should be conducted to identify areas of improvement. This review process should involve all relevant stakeholders and contribute to refining strategies for future elections.
- Political Party Reforms:Political party system reforms in rife and the political elites must understand that power comes not from the barrels of the guns but from and elective democratic system with sound voting hygiene. Political class must desist from making decisive statements when election processes are ongoing.
- INEC must be vigilant at the collation Centers: All the attentions have moved from the polling units to the collation centers. We urge INEC to pay specific attentions to the integrity of the results arriving at the collation centers. This is the point where potential conflict might erupt if not properly managed.
It is with great appreciation that CLEEN Foundation acknowledges and commends the people of Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi for their confidence in the electoral system and for turning out in large numbers to cast their votes during the recent elections. Additionally, the CLEEN Foundation expresses admiration for the professional conduct exhibited by the security agencies during the elections. However, it is important to note that CLEEN Foundation is calling on all relevant stakeholders, including INEC and security agencies, to ensure that the collation and counting process is conducted in an open and transparent manner. CLEEN Foundation also urges citizens to abide by the law and maintain order throughout the remaining phases of this exercise.