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Center charges Buhari to restore electoral process

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Maureen Okpe

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) Election Analysis Centre (EAC) has expressed reserve on the general conduct of election in Kogi and Bayelsa states, calling on President Mohammadu Buhari to urgently provide the leadership needed to rescue the electoral process, and by extension the democratic system of Nigeria from collapse.

The Director, Idayat Hassan made the call in Abuja,Monday during a media briefing on the Governorship Elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, saying that the level of malpractices in these elections was pervasive and marred with varrious irregularities.

According to Hassan, the call was preemptory considering that President Buhari was only able to ascend the Presidency through the historic 2015 elections because the electoral process allowed the votes to count.

She regretted that violence was particularly widespread but more pronounced in certain locations particularly areas with high number of registered voters ranging from hijack of electoral materials by thugs, kidnap of INEC ad hoc staff, vote buying, attacks on observers, intimidation of voters and under-aged voting.

” These incidents combined to damage the credibility of the polls.”

“Our observers reveal that violence and disruption of voting constituted 66.21 percent of the total reported incidents. Vote trading which was also widespread across the state constituted 28.38% of total reported malfeasance while under-aged/multiple voting constituted 5.41% of total incidents reported.

“The intensity of the observed incidents was high in LGAs like Lokoja, Kabba-Bunu, Ijumu, Okene, Ajaokuta; Dekina and Olamaboro, adding that Kogi West senatorial districts topped the chart of incidents with 55% while Kogi East and Kogi Central accounted for 27.0% and 18% of the total reported incidents respectively. There were reports of a group of people thumb printing significant number of ballot papers,” she said.

“In Bayelsa, CDD EAC observers reported over 50 critical incidents which directly impacted the credibility of the election. The incidents are mainly predominant in Yenagoa, Ekeremor and Sagbama LGAs of Bayelsa State. Violence in form of thuggery, ballot box snatching, destruction of voting materials constituted 66.7% of the total reported incidents.

“At the last count, our observer reports from Kogi State have recorded the deaths of 10 people in various shooting incidents and attacks across the State. CDD EAC accredited non partisan observers, including trained roving journalists, reported over 79 critical incidents in the Kogi State off-cycle governorship and the rerun Senatorial elections.

“Other reported incidents, which call to question the credibility of these polls include widespread stuffing of ballot boxes, ballot snatching and multiple voting ,” she added.

The center therefore called on all electoral stakeholders in Kogi and Bayelsa states to remain calm, and not despair, assuring that they are committed to work on behalf of the country to reclaim the electoral system from the “grip of the partisan outlaws.”

“At the moment, Nigeria’s electoral process requires a bold and courageous leadership to chart a way forward and resolve the lingering challenges threatening to derail it.

President Buhari owes this duty to all Nigerians; he cannot stand by and allow the continuous degeneration of our electoral system.It is a serious indictment on our national capacity that two decades after the advent of the current democratic dispensation, we still cannot deal with the threats to the right of citizens to make their democratic preferences in an atmosphere devoid of fear and insecurity,”

She further maintained that in an electoral process, what is at stake is not only the political offices the partisan actors are angling to occupy.

“The crux for the citizen remains the basic right to have a say in determining who governs him or her. This right is well enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended,” she stressed.

Speaking at the briefing Human Rights Lawyer Femi Falana charged CDD to coordinate other stakeholders to pursue electoral offenders and ensure all criminal elements were brought to book in order to protect the electoral process from derailing.

“It is time for CDD and other civil Organisation sit down and ensure that criminal elements subverting the Democratic system in Nigeria are brought to book.”

Earlier Prof. Jibrin Ibrahimsenior fellow CDD, reiterated the need also for President Buhari to intervene and address the question of rapid decline of the intergrity of Nigeria elections,stating that the key problem is the complicity of the state as security agencies deployed were not visible setting the environment free for systematic moving of arm thugs through polling units in the kogi,Bayelsa election.

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