Independent National Electoral Commission accredited observer, Election Monitor has issued an observation and recommendation report on the just concluded Osun state governorship rerun poll, saying the election was not credible as voters who could have influenced the election outcome were prevented from casting their votes.
The group while commending the outcome of the first election said the Re-run Election of 27th September 2018 fell below global standards for credible elections primarily as a result of a failure of security agencies to prevent the unlawful actions of political actors and thugs.
In a press briefing on Friday October 19, National Coordinator of Election Monitor, Mr Abiodun Ajilola said the Osun governorship re-run election was marred by voter intimidation and harassment, violence and unlawful arrests of duly accredited election observers and journalists.
Speaking further, he said; “According to international best practices it is expected that every eligible voter is encouraged to participate effectively, this did not happen in the majority of locations during the re-run election therefore it is not possible to know the true outcome of the election when so many voters were denied their fundamental civic right of franchise.
Ajilola while speaking on the number of voided votes, said Election Monitor is concerned about the possibility of intentional voiding of votes. “The large number of voided votes (47,874) is of significant concern. The rate of voided votes of 6.22% is very high equating to a 42.7% increase from the voided vote rate in the 2014 Osun State Governorship Election.
In its recommendation, Election Monitor urged INEC to carry out forensic audit of voided votes. “Since the voided votes are so high and unusual for elections in Osun state, INEC may want to consider conducting a forensic audit to determine the cause of the sharp increase in voided votes observed in this election. This is important because it will help determine if there was any foul play or not and what can be done to ensure voided vote rates remain low in subsequent elections.”
“Since only 353 votes separated the first place (PDP) and second place (APC) candidates after the first ballot the ultimate credibility of the entire election hinged significantly on the conduct of the Re-run election which held on Thursday 27th September 2018.”
On vote buying, the observer group said it observed that vote buying was on a much smaller visible scale than the recently concluded 2018 Ekiti State Governorship Election.
It however advised INEC to consider having a hotline where voters can report incidences of vote buying to encourage citizens to help expose the menace and hopefully eradicate in subsequent elections.
Election Monitor also urged INEC to publish the number of PVCs distributed across the state or constituency where election is holding before the election just as it publishes the total number of registered voters and also consider Relocating some of the polling units located in the bush where there are no settlements of human beings.
The group also tasked the International Community to continue to speak out when they see negative tendencies in the nation’s electoral process, provide greater and more sustainable support for domestic observer groups and media and also increase their engagement during the 2019 General Elections to help promote and support violence free polls in Nigeria.