The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) Africa, has called on security agencies deployed for the Ekiti Gubernatorial election to respect the rights of citizens and observers.
It said “This is including the right to freedom of movement, on election day, for duly accredited observers, urging all security agents on election duty to uphold the principles of non-partisanship, transparency, civil policing and professionalism in the conduct of their affairs.”
The youth group said as part of their efforts to deepen electoral integrity, YIAGA AFRICA launched the Pre-Election Observation (PREO), Watching The Vote (WTV).
In the report made available to LEADERSHIP and jointly signed by the chairman, YIAGA AFRICA WTV Working Group Hussaini Abdu, PhD and YIAGA executive director Samson Itodo, it stated that “YIAGA had observed instances of overzealous behaviour on the part of security officials deployed for the election”
The report alleged that two of YIAGA AFRICA’s observers were arrested and detained on July 11, 2018, in Ado-Ekiti for no justifiable reason.
Giving a brief on the Ekiti Election, the group stated that the Ekiti election is the sixth governorship election the electoral commission will conduct since the 2015 general elections, stating that thirty-five candidates from 35 political parties are in the race for the governorship seat.
The report revealed that “over 667,000 registered voters who collected their Permanent Voter Card (PVC) will be expected to vote in Saturday’s election, noting that the election promises to further test the country’s democratic credentials ahead of the 2019 general elections.”
YIAGA listed compliance with results counting and announcement guidelines, access to collation centres, hate speech/inciting statements, voter inducement and vote buying as some of the emerging concerns on the 2018 Governorship elections.
The Report maintained that “On July 14, WTV will deploy 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 25 mobile observers located in all 16 local government areas (LGAs) of Ekiti state. WTV will also deploy 16 collation centre observers to each of the LGA Collation Centres.
This deployment strategy will enable YIAGA AFRICA to provide timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting as well as to independently verify the official results for the Ekiti gubernatorial election as announced by INEC. If the announced results reflect the ballots cast at polling units, then we will confirm the outcome. However, if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the results posted at polling units, then YIAGA AFRICA will expose it,” it stated.
In its recommendations, the Group, which said the WTV Project will closely observe the newly piloted e-collation process urged INEC to ensure transparency and openness in the result collation and transmission process urged Voters to take pictures of the results posted at the polling unit using the FORM EC 60 E.
YIAGA called on INEC and security agencies to ensure accredited party agents and observers are granted access to collation centres as their presence will enhance the integrity of the process while urging security agencies to sanction any individual or group propagating hate speech in the election.
Lamenting the ugly trend of voter inducement, the Report stated that ”We are concerned that this election may be determined by the highest bidder if INEC does not take intentional steps to protect the secrecy of the ballot. The voters must resist any attempt by politicians to subvert the process through material inducement or cash. We urge voters to cast their votes according to their preferences.”
The YIAGA group assured that to demonstrate their readiness to monitor the Ekiti elections, YIAGA AFRICA Yesterday conducted a full simulation exercise at Eleventh Avenue, Behind TOS Filling Station, Near Bawa Estate, Iworoko Road, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, adding that the exercise will involve all 500 WTV citizen observers sending in practice coded text
It assured that YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV will provide timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting as well as independently verify the official governorship results as announced by the INEC. YIAGA AFRICA deployed the methodology in the 2017 governorship election in Anambra state, as well as in 2016 in Ondo State, and verified the official results
YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote is a citizen-led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections in Nigeria using technological tools like SMS and evidence-based research methodologies to further election observation. The initiative is designed to promote credible elections and boost citizens’ confidence in the electoral process through citizen’s observation of electoral activities in the electoral cycle.