By Jethro Ibileke
Yiaga Africa has reported appreciable improvement in the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in the conduct of the Ondo State Governorship election.
It also reported improvement in the management of election logistics.
The citizen-led Non-Governmental Organization disclosed this during its election day situation report.
The co-chairman of Yiaga Africa, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, in a statement, also noted that the security agencies, especially the police, displayed professionalism and civility during the set up and opening of polls.
She expressed hope that this conduct would be maintained throughout the counting, collation, transmission and announcement of election results.
She said: “Yiaga Africa notes the improvement in the arrival time and set up of polling units. As at 7:30am, Yiaga Africa reported that INEC officials had arrived in 77% of polling units.
“This is a significant improvement when compared to the September 19 Edo governorship election where officials arrived at 7:30am in 38% of polling units.
“Although polling officials arrived early in a majority of polling stations observed, only 3% of polling units had commenced voting and accreditation at 8:30am. However, the numbers increased to 92% by 9:30am and 97% at 10:30am.”
The organization also commended the effective deployment of election materials and personnel, which it said remained crucial to the conduct of the election.
“Yiaga Africa’s WTV observers reported the presence of an average of four (4) polling officials in the polling units.
“Sensitive materials like the Smart Card Readers and Register of Voters were observed in all polling units. In addition, voting cubicles were observed in 96% of polling units and ink pads (in voting cubicles) in all the polling units observed.”
Yiaga Africa also reported cases of violence, vote buying and interference by party agents, that mar the poll at various polling units across the state.
“As predicted in the Yiaga Africa Pre-Election Observation reports (PREO), armed political thugs made attempts to disrupt elections in some polling units.
“Yiaga Africa received and verified a critical incident in Ijomu Ward 4, Polling Unit 7 in Akure at St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School where a suspected thug attempting to disrupt the election was stabbed by another rival thug.
“Sporadic gunshots by unknown armed men also occurred in Oba-Ile, Ward 9, Unit 007, Akure North, LGA.”
“Yiaga Africa received reports of voting buying from Akure South LGA, Ose, Ondo West, Ilaje and Akure North. Across several polling units, the secrecy of the ballot was severely compromised despite attempts by polling officials to prevent voters and party agents from showing how ballot papers were marked.
“These electoral offences occurred in the presence of security who made no attempt to reprimand the culprits.
“Vote in St. Paul’s Primary School, Oluwu, Arewa III, Code 015, of Lodasa Iparuku/Likoja Ward in Ondo West, votes were traded for money as voters showed how they voted to party agents before casting their ballots.
“In St. Paul’s Anglican Primary School, 001 of Ifon 1 ward in Ose LGA, party agents accompanied voters to the voting cubicle to see how they marked their ballots.
“In Ajegunle Erumana LA School 012 of Aheri Ward, Ilaje, voters showed how they marked their ballots to polling agents that were stationed at the polling unit. Vote buying was also reported in Polling Unit 007, Ward 9 in Oba-Ile, Akure North LGA,” it said.