Observer Group Laments Military Interference, Voter Apathy


One of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s accredited observer groups, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy, on Sunday, said the governorship and state House of Assembly elections were marred by violence, military interference and voter apathy, among other challenges.

The group’s Executive Director, Faith Nwadishi, made its position known in its interim report on the elections presented to journalists at a press conference in Abuja.

“The election was marked by low voter turnout, violence, intervention of the military in some places, and killing of citizens who had come out to exercise their franchise.

“INEC offices in some states were burnt, citizens intimated. In our opinion, citizens should not lose their lives for participating in election,” Nwadishi said.

She said voter turnout was generally poor across the country compared to the presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 23.

She attributed the situation to the violence that marred the presidential election in many areas.

Nwadishi added, “Voters who came out to vote were of the impression that perhaps the reason others didn’t come out was because their votes in earlier elections did not count and didn’t see the point in coming out to vote.

“However, in some specific areas, there was a high turnout of voters and upon further investigation, those areas were identified as the strongholds of certain candidates.

“Citizens deployed various ways to get voters out to vote such as the use of town criers; but this still did not yield its desired objective.”

She, however, said the observer group noted remarkable improvement in the logistical arrangements leading to early deployment of personnel and materials and early commencement of polls.

On the conduct of security agents, Nwadishi said while they did well in some areas, they performed below expectations in others.

She said, “Security agents appeared to have conducted themselves well in many voting units; but in many voting units across the country, our observers reported that security agents, particularly officers of the Nigeria Police Force and the armed forces, were involved in the disruption of the voting process, harassment of INEC officials and election observers.

“For example, there was the case of INEC officials and observers held hostage and their personal effects, such as phones, seized at Ward 7, Unit 14, in Oruk Anam, Akwa Ibom State.”

Nwadishi added that her group noted many incidents of vote-buying, which were done in the presence of security agents.

Vote-buying, she explained, was done in the form of cash and food items.