Accredited independent observer of the just concluded Ekiti State governorship election, Election Monitor, supported by French Embassy has presented its report on the activities that transpired in the keenly contested election.
The group reported that the 2018 Ekiti State Governorship Election was very well conducted and administered in terms of the Pre-Election period and Election Day activities with a significant improvement over recent governorship elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission; however saying the large number of voided votes is of significant concern.
National Coordinator, Election Monitor, Mr Abiodun Ajilola while presenting the report yesterday in Abuja, said despite very few announced electoral malpractices leading to a very low number of cancellations (8,072), the highly competitive nature of the election means that slight malpractices could have a significant impact on the election outcome.
“Considering the cancellations and the high rate of voided votes which is not consistent with Ekiti state in recent elections, it is Election Monitor’s considered opinion that while the 2018 Ekiti State Governorship Election can be said to be generally free and fair, the credibility of the outcome cannot be guaranteed as the issues previously mentioned may or may not have had a significant impact on the election result,” he said.
The Observer Group observed that the voter turnout was generally quite high across polling stations visited, adding that turnout based on accredited voters was 44.62% while the turnout based on total votes cast was 44.36%. It is clear that these figures are less than the voter turnout in the 2014 Ekiti State Governorship election (49.1%) but more than the 2015 Presidential Election in Ekiti State (42.8%).
According to the report on vote-buying, the group decried widespread occurrences, saying that the level of votebuying in the election is not only atrocious and appalling but a threat to Nigeria’s nascent democracy. It added that open purchase of votes, transfer of funds to accounts of voters 24 hours to election etc are unacceptable practices that must be condemned and brought to an end immediately.
It however, commended INEC for providing a level playing field to all political parties during the Election Day activities without showing any form of partisanship and there is no evidence to the contrary.
Also speaking, INEC National Commissioner and Head of Legal Services Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu in her address said election observers are important stakeholders in the electoral process and that is why INEC regularly engages Civil Society Organisations.
“INEC believes in the transparency of its processes and procedures and that is why at every single election that INEC conducts, observers are accredited to observe the elections and provide important reports on their assessment of the electoral process.
” I supervised Irepodun/Ifelodun and Ekiti South West LGA, and I can say it was peaceful, professionally organised and a successful election. The security agencies played their role promptly and promptly.”
On allegations of vote-buying, she said there are several provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) criminalising bribery and corruption relating to voting during elections, including sections 124, 126, 129 and 130.
“By virtue of section 150(2), it is the responsibility of INEC to prosecute electoral offenders, including those involved in the act of buying and selling votes as well as announcing of false election results. However, INEC lacks the power of investigating and arrest.
“The Commission is deeply concerned about the rising phenomenon of votes buying during elections and is determined to continue to work with stakeholders, law enforcement agencies and the judiciary among others to find solutions to this menace,” she said.