By Angela Atabo
Abuja, Oct. 12, 2020 Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on Monday raised concern over the influx of fake election observer during the Ondo governorship election.
Director CDD Idayata Hassan raised the concern while addressing newsmen on the CDD’s ‘Post-Election: 2020 Ondo Off-circle Governorship Election’.
Hassan said that increasing threat of fake observers was another trend observed by CDD in the Ondo governorship election and it was becoming worrisome .
“There were the presence of fake observers, who were neither accredited by INEC nor trained to engage in non-partisan observation.
“CDD investigations showed that the role of these fake observers was to ‘muddy the waters and conflate the messaging’ about key processes in the election being disseminated by genuine observers.
“In the subsequent elections, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should do more to check the trend and weed them out.”
Also speaking, Prof. Adele Jinadu, chair, CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC), commended INEC for improved conduct of the Ondo election stating that the result viewing portal added credibility to the exercise.
Jinadu said that the report provided an account of CDD’s major findings, derived primarily from field data gathered by researchers and observers deployed for the Ondo election.
He said that INEC deployed election officials and materials to all polling units in a timely and efficient manner to enable the accreditation and voting process to start and end as scheduled in most polling units including those in the riverine areas.
He added that Smart Card Readers functioned well, although there were hitches that were quickly rectified by technicians on stand-by duty in some polling units.
“Generally the collation process at the various centres went on well and results were uploaded without delay on the INEC result viewing portal.
“As in the case of Edo election, the immediate uploading of results ensured the transparency of INEC’s result management process in preempting attempts to introduce changes or alterations at other levels of collation beginning from the ward to RA level.
“The uploading also enabled stakeholders to track the progress of result upload and protect the outcome of the election before the final declaration.
“In the case of the Ondo election, as in the case of Edo, the results were processed within about seven to eight hours of the close of polls.
“CDD recommends that going forward, INEC should continue to embrace not only the results management process but also the electoral process in general.”
“Towards this end, it will be important to begin focusing on the need for the replacement or upgrade of equipment such as the card readers or indeed looking for better multifunctional equipment that can encompass the entire process from the registration of new voters through to the processing of results.”
Jinadu said that there was widespread disregard by voters of the COVID-19 protocols issued by the Presidential Task Force and INEC.
He added that face masks were generally not worn and social distancing was not observed.
He said that the group also observed vote buying at several other polling units.
He added that CDD observed a consistent pattern of vote buying, involving vote buyers who used various devices to evade the watch of security officials and election observers.
“It was alleged by those the CDD observers spoke with about vote buying at polling units on Election Day that bulk sums ranging from N150,000 to N600,000 were earmarked for each polling unit across each LGA.
“Another vote buying tactic used was to make electronic cash transfers to the voter after proving he or she voted for the preferred candidate of the vote buyer.”
Jinadu said that the centre recommended the immediate enactment of legislation to establish an Electoral Offences Commission to deal with the rising incidence of vote buying and other forms of electoral corruption and offences.
He said that there was also need to create a civil society network of volunteers at polling units dedicated to monitor and discourage vote buying on Election Day.
He said that CDD called for a party reform to make the country’s political parties reflect democratic culture of accountability, transparency, inclusion and participation in their internal decision-making structures.
He said that going forward to build on the gains of the 2020 Ondo Elections and clear the dark clouds that hung over it required revisiting and implementing the recommendations and the Uwais-led election reform committee.
According to him, CDD is hopeful that INEC and relevant stakeholders in Nigeria generally will come together to address those dark spots.
He said that doing so would brighten the prospects for the conduct of not only peaceful but also free and fair elections with commendable lessons learnt for future elections to enhance democracy and development in Nigeria