The European Union Election Observation Mission has stated that it noticed an increased level of vote-buying, party agent interference and violence, during the 2019 supplementary elections for governorship and state House of Assembly seats, conducted in five states across the country on March 23.
Backstory: The foreign observer group which has monitored the electoral process from the first set of elections in February, explained in a statement that it had sent five teams comprising of 20 observers, to the states involved namely: Benue, Plateau, Sokoto, Kano and Bauchi.
- Some areas had armed men “intimidating and obstructing the electoral process, and security agencies ineffective at protecting citizen’s right to vote,” the Observer Mission noted.
- The mission observed extensive electoral security problems, particularly in parts of Kano where polling became inaccessible to EU observers in some areas.
- “The environment was intimidating and not conducive to voters’ free participation in the election. Party leadership, locally and centrally, did not appear to take any steps to rein in supporters and prevent evident violence, intimidation or other misconduct.”
- The group also observed that personnel working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), were attacked during the collation process in Kano state, as well as harassment of media organization such as BBC Hausa and TVC.
- It also noted that throughout the day, INEC did not comment on electoral disturbances, despite its overall responsibility for the election and security arrangements.
The terrible elections were not confined to Kano.
- In Bauchi, EU observers witnessed around 50 people with clubs disrupting counting in one polling unit.
- In Benue, election materials were burnt, resulting in the cancellation of polling affecting 13,000 registered voters, and a collation officer carrying result sheets was shot in the legs.
- “EU observers in all five states also saw party agents trying to influence voters, assisting voters or voting on their behalf. Supporters and agents were sometimes present in polling units in excessive numbers, resulting in overcrowding.”
Bottom Line: The 2019 elections fell far below the standards of a true democratic electoral process.