A citizen-led election observation initiative, Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote, has said that yesterday’s governorship election was marred by ballot box snatching, sporadic shootings and interference, disruption of the election process, intimidation and harassment of observers/journalists and vote-buying.
This is as the group said there was disregard of the COVID-19 protocols requiring physical distancing and mandatory use of face masks/face coverings across polling units.
This was disclosed in Yiaga’s mid-day situational report on the 2020 Edo Governorship Election and signed by Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Chair, Yiaga Africa Watching the Vote – 2020 Edo Election Observation Mission and Samson Itodo, Executive Director Yiaga Africa.
The initiative also called for caution on the part of security officers deployed in the field to refrain from intimidating observers and journalist as the results collation commences Yiaga Africa WTV said it deployed 500 carefully trained stationary observers and 25 mobile observers in all the 18 local government areas (LGAs) of the state to observe the voting process and share reports on the conduct of the election at the polling units’ level.
The report reads: “As predicted by Yiaga Africa in the pre-election, there were more critical incident reports from Oredo, Orhionwon, Igueben, Egor, Ikpoba-Okha and Esan North-East at the commencement of today’s poll. Some of the verified incident reports include ballot box snatching, sporadic shootings and interference and disruption of the election process, intimidation and harassment of observers/journalists and vote-buying.
“On election day, some police officers prevented observers and media from accessing Yiaga Africa’s data centre in Benin City for about three hours. “Upon escalating the incident, the leadership of the Nigerian police responded and resolved the issue.
However, police officers were deployed to closely monitor Yiaga Africa’s data centre and press conference. Yiaga Africa commends the leadership of the police, in particular, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Olaleye Oyebade for promptly responding to this issue. “This report highlights the late commencement of accreditation and voting and notes the disregard of the COVID-19 protocol requiring physical distancing and mandatory use of face mask/ face covering across polling units.”
Yiaga Africa is a non-profit civic hub of change makers aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections in Nigeria using technological tools. Card readers fail in Esa West, Central As Edo elected its governor yesterday, this came as the Card Readers provided for the election to authenticate fingerprints of voters in Esan West and Esan Central local government areas of the state failed to recognise some voters. It was reported that while the Card Readers easily identified the voter cards, they failed to authenticate their fingerprints.
This abnormality was manifest at the polling units in Ward 5 (Uhunmudumu Primary School), and units 14, 15 and 16 (Emado Primary School) in Ekpoma, Esan West Local Government Area. The same was applicable in units 5 and 6, Ward 6 (Idumebo Primary School), in Esan Central Local Government Area. However, NAN reports that the voters were still allowed to vote after the cases were recorded on INEC form after which the voters were made to thumb print in the form.
Electorate, observer commend conduct of Edo election Electorate and an observer at Ugboko Ward 5, Unit 26, Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State, agreed that the conduct of the state governorship election was peaceful. Some of the electorate who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews yesterday, said that the conduct was well organised.
They also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for adhering to the COVID-19 safety protocols during the electoral process. Mr. Benson Ibizugbe said that he was impressed that the process was going on peacefully and violence-free. An INEC observer, Ada Opkara, from Smile Africa, said that the voting process was seamless and commended the people of Ugboko ward for their peaceful conduct. “I resumed here at 7: 18 a.m. before the INEC staff resumed activities, from that time till now, about three hours later, everywhere is calm.
“The electorate are cooperative and they are obeying the rules of COVID-19 and INEC officials,” he said. Another electorate, Mr. Monday Erhabor, said he was happy that there was no violence at the voting centre. “Everywhere is calm and peaceful, there is no violence, the security is tight and we are sure of a free and fair process”.
European Centre decries non-compliance to COVID-19 protocols The European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) yesterday said voters in Ologbosere primary school, ward 4 with 40 units and other polling units they visited were not observing the COVID-19 guidelines as stipulated in the INEC policy. Mr. Wilson Manji, the deputy project coordinator, told newsmen, that although the voters were all wearing face masks but they did not maintain social distancing. “So far the election is going smoothly and calm. We are at Ologbosere primary in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of the state.
“So far everything is peaceful and calm here. Just that the INEC staff just arrived at about 10a.m. and accreditation and voting started at about 10.30a.m. instead of 8.30a.m,” he said.
According to him, the polling officers came with hand sanitisers and thermometers to check the temperature of every voter. On his part, the Head, INEC Voter Education and Publicity, Timidi Wariowei, told newsmen at INEC office in Benin that most of the polling units and voting points started voting at 8.30a.m. He said that he observed that the voters were all wearing face masks but did not maintain social distancing.
He further said that before he left the polling units he visited and educated the people on the need to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 regulations by maintaining social distancing for the safety of all. Presiding officers insist ‘no face masks, no voting’ Presiding Officers in the Edo governorship election have said that no electorate will be allowed to vote without wearing a face mask in compliance with the COVID- 19 safety protocols.
They also insist on adherence to social distancing as provided in the guidelines for the conduct of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Mr. Oyesanmi Ezekiel, the presiding officer at Central Primary School, Iruekpen, told the eligible voters to wear face masks before voting in units 3, 4 and 5 at Iruekpen. As part of efforts to ensure compliance with social distancing, Ezekiel marked out areas that the electorate could stand before being allowed to vote. He disclosed that as part of effort to check the spread of COVID-19 virus, INEC provided them with infrared thermometers, medicated spirit and hand sanitisers.
“The medicated spirit will be used to clean the card reader as well as fingers of each voter before voting,” he said. The situation, however, was not the same at Ward 5 Unit 2, where voters did not observe INEC guidelines on social distancing for the poll. But in Emaudo Ward 4, Unit 14, Esan West Local Government, both voters and INEC officials complied with the protocols. Hawkers of face masks used the no face masks no voting to make quick money across the various polling units visited. The face masks sellers who sell each mask for N100, witnessed high patronage from voters who came without any.
No offender will go unpunished, police warn Deputy Inspector-General of Police Adeleye Oyebade in charge of Edo Governorship Security Monitoring Team has warned that nobody who violated electoral laws would go unpunished. Oyebade said this yesterday in Benin, after inspecting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office where the final collation of the Edo governorship election results would take place.
He said that while election was still ongoing, the security agencies appealed to the electorate and major actors not to cross the line, but do the needful. He explained that the inspection was to further strengthen what was on ground, adding that minor issues that had been brought before the security agencies were being handled.
He noted that every security agency in the state under the banner of Inter Agencies Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), were all involved in the election security to ensure free, fair and acceptable results at the end of the poll. He said that security agencies were committed to ensure that the election was conducted peacefully, adding that nothing was too much to sacrifice for the success of the election.
Speaking on the alleged shooting of an electorate at Ologbo in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of the state and the alleged shooting at Oza, in Orhiomwon Local Government Area, Oyebade said that there was nothing of such.
Former APC chairman dissociates self from tweet condemning siege on Wike
Johnchuks Onuanyim Abuja
Former Acting National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon Victor Giadom has distanced himself from a tweet on a twitter handle purportedly owned by him.
In the said tweet, on a handle of an online news medium @nigerianNewsdesk, the former Acting national chairman had purportedly condemned the reported siege on a hotel where the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and other PDP chieftains were lodging.
The tweet that emanated from @_victorgiadom went on to say, “stopping a sitting @GovWike that has immunity to move freely till at least 11:59pm yesterday should be seen as an infringement on the constitution and could be seen as a treasonable act. I am an @officialAPCNG chieftain and I won’t be part of illegality”.
However in a swift reaction, Hon Giadom said the tweet did not emanate from him and should be disregarded by the public. Writing on his authentic Twitter account @victorTGiadom, the former Acting chairman said, “My attention has been drawn to a tweet purportedly to have emanated from me.
Please note that this account is impersonating my person and all tweets from this account @_victorgiadom should be disregarded.
This account and tweet is intended to cause mischief and should be disregarded by the public,” he said.
The former Acting National Chairman charged politicians and their supporters to apply dignity in playing politics as maligning an individual could not be said to be part of good politics.