The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) has expressed disappointment over the conduct of off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States, stressing that the elections fell far below the threshold of credible elections.
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of the elections by the Situation Room which was signed by Y.Z Ya’u, Mimidoo Achakpa and Franklin Oloniju the conveners of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room.
The Situation Room observed the reports of high levels of results falsfication and other forms of electoral irregularities in the governorship elections in the three States, noting that the attitude has raised serious questions about the credibility of elections and the future of democracy in Nigeria.
“Nigerians had expected that the lessons learnt from the 2023 General elections by stakeholders, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would have been taken to improve the conduct of these elections.
“Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case, as these elections have proved to be another huge disappointment. The governorship elections conducted in these States represent a major setback for Nigeria’s electoral democracy” the communique said.
On delayed commencement of polls the Situation Room observers reported that voting commenced late in polling units visited Imo State, noting that only 29 per cent of the polling units had commenced voting by the official time of 8:30 am.
According to reports of Situation Room, observers and election officials did not turn up in several polling units in Ideato North and Ideato South LGAs and a few polling units in Orlu, Orsu, Okigwe and Oru East LGAs, stressing that the failure of INEC to turn up had disenfranchised voters in the affected areas.
“The situation was relatively different in Bayelsa and Kogi States, where 66 per cent and 86 per cent of the polling units observed commenced voting by the official time of 8:30 am. Voting in Bayelsa State was, however, affected by the incidents of the capsized boat in Southern Ijaw LGA and the abduction of INEC’s Supervisory Presiding Officer assigned to Registration Area 06 (Ossioma) in Sagbama LGA”.
According to the communique, the governorship elections in the three states represented a major setback in Nigeria’s democratic development and called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to fully review the elections in Kogi and Imo States to identify the incidents of malpractice that took place and reflect the genuine vote of the people.
On vote trading, the communique berated the security agencies especially the policemen for their inability
to contain the menace of vote buying and selling , describing the situation as the commercialization of Nigeria’s elections which they observed have reached unprecedented heights.
“Political parties and their agents operated openly and with impunity, distributing money in the purchase of votes without any effort from the security agents to contain it. Sums paid at polling units ranged from N1,000 to N30,000, along with cooked and uncooked food items. There has to be an effective mechanism to halt politicians weaponizing poverty to win elections in Nigeria”the communique said.