•Fayemi: Report fabricated by Ekiti State govt
A coalition of domestic and international election observers accredited to observe the July 14 governorship poll in Ekiti State, yesterday, discredited the poll with their respective reports, insisting that the election that produced the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Dr. Kayode Fayemi as Governor-elect, fell short of global best practices and electoral standards
The observers particularly blamed lapses during the election on the way a section of the security agents deployed for the exercise conducted themselves, among other electoral related challenges.
But, in a swift reaction, the Media Office of Dr. Fayemi, dismissed the report of the observer group, describing it as a concoction fabricated and facilitated by the Ekiti State government to discredit the election that returned the APC candidate as the winner.
The observers, comprised representatives from over 50 domestic organisations, human rights groups and international election observing bodies, including Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness (Nigeria), Justice and Equity Organisation (Nigeria), International Republican Institute (South Africa) and Patriotic Women Foundation (Nigeria) as well as a team from the African Union, among others.
Praising the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for proper conduct of the poll in line with global and constitutional dictates and standards, the observers however faulted the deployment of 30,000 security agents, insisting that such development and conduct of some of the security operatives largely marred the electoral process.
They insisted that such unwholesome practices of votes buying tagged ‘see and buy’ in local parlance, where voters surreptitiously showed which party they voted to party agents, who went behind to settle them; snatching of ballot boxes; sporadic shootings and driving away of some party agents as well as intimidation, oppression and forceful influence of electorate free will, among others were among the anomalies that characterized the poll.
The observers therefore held that the poll cannot be recommended as a template for the forthcoming 2019 general elections as it fell short of global standards, warning of imminent danger for the nation if the lapses noted were not addressed and a reorientation exercise across board is put in place.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the domestic observers, Dr. Gabriel Nwambu of the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, said: “Modern democracy guarantees freedom of electorate to determine who to vote, anything against this is an usurp. Polls also should comply with globally accepted standards hence observers’ job is to access the level of compliance of electoral umpire to constitutional regulations which serve as a way to give direction for future exercise.
His words: “Reports of observers remain a potential tool for election tribunals and other monitoring and relevant bodies for post election activities. Fifty-one reputable domestic observer groups were on ground in all the 177 wards, 16 local government areas and all the polling units in the state to monitor the poll. Ekiti has a record of being a serial politically volatile state in Nigeria and this became manifest before during and after the poll.
“On July 14, domestic observers witnessed large turnout of the electorate from 6.30am, earlier than the stipulated time of 8.am. The exercise witnessed a high level of unprecedented electoral related challenges and such abuse will remain contentious until justice prevails, especially in the areas of cash inducement, arrests of political stalwarts by security agents and snatching of electoral materials by political thugs among other abuses.”
He cited some units and wards in Aramoko, Ekiti West Local Government Area and Efon Alaaye, Erungbua settlement, Efon Local Government Area in which there were large numbers of accredited voters, saying that while many electorate, including pregnant women, Persons Living with Disabilities and aged people trooped out to vote, card readers were slow, voting buying and cash inducement held sway.
“Finger biometric capture was slow. Party stewards were indicating to voters where to thumb print. Poll was delayed due to slow pace of machines. Party agents had huge cash and were close to voting points. Security agents were indifferent to cash inducement of voters. The whole process falls short of the compliance with international best standards.
“The poll fell short of the threshold of international standards as it was based on vote buying, it will be a disaster to recommend the poll for 2019, but INEC did a good job by conducting the poll in line with best global standards. What gave rise to the shortcomings is due to security lapses. There should be a reorientation as this development spells doom for Nigeria ahead of 2019,” Nwambu added.
Speaking in the same vein, one of the International observers, Mrs. Virginia Marumoa-Gae of the International Republican Institute (IRI), noted that accreditation and voting began simultaneously as early as 6.am on Saturday, July 14, with large numbers of electorate who arrived earlier than scheduled 8.am. She said but trouble began at 11.am, when “see and buy” started and this caused chaos across all the wards and polling units.
The statement read: “We have noted the fraud contained in the so-called observers group report and we condemn the desperation that stoke that sponsored report to diminish the standard of the Saturday election, which a more credible observer group, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), had earlier hailed as credible poll, applauding INEC, security and voters for conducting themselves in acceptable manner to produce credible election.”
“We were privy to the earlier press conference where the observer groups were to give a fair assessment of the entire electoral process, but the process was hijacked by the state government, which locked a motley crowd of supporters in a room in the Government House where media houses under retainership of the state government were the only ones present to report the proceedings of the so-called press conference.
“In the so-called press conference, only two television stations under retainership of Ekiti Government and a reporter of a Lagos-based publication were present. The report that purportedly emerged as scripted in the so-called press conference was forwarded to other media houses, which innocently resorted to processing the story for wider broadcast and publication to mislead the Nigerian public as authentic observers group’s report on the election.
“In the warped report, there was a preponderance of conflicting presentation of facts of the election. Instances abound where security agents were praised for a job well done and the next moment, security agents were accused of menacing voters.
“Most striking was the statement in the so-called report that as early as 6.am on July 14, voting had commenced at voting centres, among other fabrications to discredit the election as flawed. We know that all these were made up to discredit the process that produced Fayemi as governor-elect, but we advise that instead of discrediting the election, the candidate of PDP has a legal option at the tribunal to raise any legitimate issues he has against the process leading to Fayemi’s election.”
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