Kogi / Bayelsa Guber: Group raises alarm over alleged inducement of voters

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INEC adhoc workers count ballot papers during sorting at a polling station in Kano State, Nigeria February 23, 2019.REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Peter Uzoho

As count down nears the climax ahead of the November governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States, a report by a non-profit organisation, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa, has revealed alleged inducement of voters by the political actors and their parties to win the election.

The report signed by the Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, and made available to our correspondent, however said that all stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and political associations were building momentum.

According to the report filed in by the YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote Long Term Observers (WTV LTO), which was based on INEC’s preparedness, political campaigns, voter education, participation of marginalized groups, and early warning signs of electoral violence, voter inducement was reported in at least one in every three of the 21 local government areas (LGAs) in Kogi State and in all the LGAs in Bayelsa State.

The report said: “WTV LTOs witnessed or heard of cases of voter inducement in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Ogbia, Nembe and Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa State and in Adavi, Ogori Mangogo, Okehi,Okene, Bassa, Ibaji, Idah, Kabba/Bunu and Kogi K.K LGA in Kogi State”.

It recommended that the INEC should ensure inclusion, especially of all marginalized groups, adding that there is a need for a more proactive and targeted communication, using different channels of communication on the electoral process.

The report further recommended: “The gubernatorial elections will be having a large number of political parties contesting (23 in Kogi and 45 in Bayelsa). This may increase pressure on INEC and more importantly on polling officials on election day. INEC should, therefore, beef up its oversight and monitoring mechanisms that will further strengthen and ensure compliance to the electoral laws and guidelines, while avoiding unnecessary postponements of polls.

“INEC should come up with a robust mechanism and collaborate with both state and non-state actors to curb the menace of buying and selling of PVCs and other forms of voter inducement”.

It also appealed to security agencies to be more intentional in addressing early signs of violence (hate speech, physical attacks, communal crises, voter inducements) and other criminal activities ongoing in the pre-election environment.

The YIAGA Africa report equally urged security agencies to engage in active engagement and communications with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and its operations ahead of the election.

“Political party candidates and supporters should ensure they promote unity and peaceful election by refraining from any form of physical or verbal attacks on opponents or their supporters,” the report recommended.

Metuh to Face Trial over Alleged Destruction of Evidence

A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Olisa Metuh, yesterday lost his bid to stop his trial before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

The trial judge, Justice Ishaq Bello, in a ruling rejected a no-case application made by Metuh in his trial for alleged destruction of evidence.
He was said to have committed the offence while he was being investigated by the Economic and Finance Crimes Commission (EFCC) in relation to the purported looting of funds meant for the purchase of arms and ammunition during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Channels TV reported that after reviewing arguments by parties in the case, Justice Bello said, “The view of this court is that the application for a no-case submission is lacking in merit and it is hereby dismissed.”

The judge ordered Metuh to enter defence in respect of the prima facie case already established against him by the prosecution, led by Mr. Sylvanus Tahir.

He also adjourned the trial until November 20 for Metuh to open his case.
Metuh entered a no-case submission after the EFCC had called witnesses and tendered evidence in support of its
case.

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