by Stanley Azuakola
On Saturday, the Kano State Electoral Commission conducted by-elections into Gaya and Garko state constituencies. As expected, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the seats vied for.
If that election had been conducted in a state like Lagos, it would have been more prominent. But Kano is Kano, and Lagos is Lagos, so not much was heard, which wasn’t such a good thing because a statement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday, showed that the commission had serious qualms with the way the election was conducted.
INEC’s chief press secretary, Kayode Idowu, who released a statement, condemned the Kano elections in clear terms, decrying the situation where voters and officials were harassed, intimidated and assaulted by armed youths, while security agents failed to intervene.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received reports of assault, intimidation and harassment of voters and election officials during the by-elections into Gaya and Garko state assembly constituencies in Kano State held on Saturday, February 2, 2013.
“Field reports available to the commission revealed that mobs of armed youths disrupted the electoral process in some areas, harassing and intimidating innocent voters. Electoral officials were also intimidated, harassed and threatened, while some INEC supervisory officials were assaulted.
“The commission is highly disappointed that the culture of thuggery, intolerance and unruly conduct by partisans yet bedevil the electoral process in our country,” the statement said.
Security agents were fingered by the commission in the notoriety of the elections. The INEC secretary wondered why it was that “despite the overwhelming show of force by armed youths during the Kano State by-election, security agents failed to intervene.”
Idowu said that the situation bred an atmosphere that “interfered with voters’ exercise of their freedom of choice.”
“The commission hereby affirms that this sort of situation must not be allowed in our political process because it subverts the fundamental principle of free, fair and credible elections. INEC therefore calls on security agencies to remain vigilant; and to promptly intervene, whenever necessary, against the use of thuggery to intimidate or harass voters, thereby subverting the political process.”