NBA Election Monitoring Team says Osun Guber Rerun wasn’t Free and Fair – Read Full Report

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The Nigerian Bar Association Election Working Group (NBA-EWG) on the Osun State Governorship Election has submitted the report of it’s monitoring of both the main election which was declared inconclusive and the re-run.

According to the report which was signed by the Chairman  of the NBA-EWG

Tawo E. Tawo SAN, while the main election was a great improvement on what election used to be in the past, the rerun was far from being free and fair. The NBA-EWG also suggested that the Police deployed to monitor the election may have been compromised.

The Committee made the following recommendation:

  1. Polling Stations sited in the bush or where less than 20 residential places or houses which are not within a minimum of 50meters radius, should be relocated in future elections. Illustrative example is the above-mentioned polling units at Orolu.
  1. There should be proper sensitization, training and orientation programs for all security personnel deployed for election purpose. A special unit should be established within the security agencies for election purpose and other civil engagements.

Read the full Report of both the main election and the rerun election below:

REPORT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION ELECTION WORKING GROUP (NBA-EWG) ON THE OSUN STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION HELD ON THE 22ND DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2018.

Introduction

The Independent National Electoral Commission (hereinafter referred to as INEC) conducted the Osun Governorship Election on the 22ndday of September, 2018.

The Reference

The Nigerian Bar Association Election Working Group was mandated by the Nigerian Bar Association to observe the elections, ascertain and be able to comment on the extent of the conformity of the processes and procedures for the conduct of elections in Nigeria with regional and international standards and best practices. For the Osun State Governorship Election, its terms of reference encompassed the following: 

  1. To carry out a pre- and post-election assessment of the state of preparedness for the conduct of the gubernatorial elections in Osun State and make determination on whether all the political parties, candidates and other stakeholders are afforded the rights and freedom to campaign and canvass for votes in a free and fair atmosphere. 
  1. To observe relevant aspects of the election activities and conduct of the Gubernatorial Elections and assess the state of preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the security agencies and other relevant stakeholders. 
  1. To consider various factors that may affect the conduct and credibility of the electoral process as a whole. 
  1. To determine whether conditions exist for a free expression of the will of the people.

  2. To propose to the Independent National Electoral Commission such required actions on institutional, procedural and other matters as would assist in advancing the electoral process.

Deployment of Observers

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accredited the NBA Election Working Group (NBA-EWG) to observe the Osun State Governorship Election. In consonance with the said accreditation, the NBA-EWG was deployed to Osun State on Wednesday, 19th September, 2018. The NBA-EWG was joined by the Chairmen of the five branches of the Nigerian Bar Association in Osun State which include the Chairmen of Osogbo, Ikirun, Ilesa, Ile-Ife and Iwo branches of the NBA.

The NBA Election Working Group deployed its members to various Local Government Areas in the three Senatorial Districts of Osun State comprising Ede North, Ede South, Irepodun, Osogbo, Ayedaade, Irewole, Isokan, Egbedore, Iwo,Boluwaduro, Boripe, Ejigbo, Ife Central, Ife East, Ife North, Ife South, Atakumosa West, Ifelodun, Ila, Ilesha East, Ilesha West, Obokun, and Oriade

Pre-Election formalities

There was a pre-election protocol on electoral education for Observers organized by the INEC on Thursday 20th September, 2018 at Aurora Event Centre, Osogbo-Ikirun Road, Osun State. The Election Observers were briefed on the processes and procedures guiding the conduct of the election. 

Political Parties

Forty-Eight (48) Political Parties participated in the 22nd September, 2018 Osun State Governorship Election.

Arrival of INEC Officials

The INEC officials arrived at their various polling units between the hour of 6:45am and 7:05am with adequate voting materials.

Provision of Materials

INEC provided the requisite materials for the polling units. In all the polling units observed, the Presiding Officers and Supervisors confirmed that they received the election materials.

Opening of Polls

After setting up of polling stations, the presiding officers read out the voting guidelines to the voters. Most polling units opened between the hour of 7:00am/7:30am as observed by the NBA-EWG.

In Ife Central Local government at Akrabata Polling Zones, Ward 10, unit 1-12, the INEC officials arrived at 6:50am. There were four INEC Officials in each polling unit. The Presiding Officers in each unit addressed them by stating the guidelines of the election. Voting and accreditation started at about 8:00am simultaneously.

Voters’ Turn Out.

Voters’ turnout was impressive at most of the polling units. However, in some polling units like Ilesa Ward 09, Unit 09, the total voters expected was 588 but the total votes cast was 552, Also Ward 9 Unit 6B total number of voters expected was 573 but votes cast was a total of 187.  Also, at Ward 10, Unit 12A and B, expected voters were 1,213 but the total votes cast was 369.

In most of the polling units observed, there were significant turnouts of senior citizens, women and persons with disabilities.  Some of the Presiding Officers allowed the Senior Citizens, nursing mothers and persons with disabilities to cast their votes before other voters. 

Agents of Political Parties

Some of the Political Parties deployed their Party Agents to most of the polling units. However, there were more party agents in the urban areas than in the rural areas.

The Card Readers

The Card Readers worked significantly well. However, in few of the polling units observed by the NBA-EWG, the Card Readers could not authenticate the finger print with the voter’s card. In such situations, the voters were allowed to vote by ticking the non-authentication box. But when the card reader did not recognize/verify the voter’s card, such persons were not allowed to vote.

While in Ede North Local Government Area, Unit 01, ward 01, two persons were not allowed to vote because the card reader could not authenticate their cards; they were however disqualified from voting.

In Ode village, ward 2, Unit 9, the card reader had network challenges in reading voters’ fingerprints but there was a technician on ground to resolve the issue.

At Ede South Local Government Area, Unit 10, Ward 4, the card reader became faulty at about 8:20am; a technician was called in and the malfunction was resolved at about 8:40am.

The elderly also had challenges with the card readers in the area of detection of their finger prints which caused some delays, but they were later accredited using the register of voters to cross check their passport photographs which enabled them to vote. 

Security Issues

NBA-EWG observed a marked improvement in the conduct and disposition of the security agencies on election duty in Osun State. Most of them were courteous and did not interfere with the electoral process. The different security personnel provided adequate security for the polls. In most of the polling units observed by NBA-EWG, the Security personnel comprising of Nigerian Police, the Civil Defense Corps, Nigerian Prisons Service, NDLEA, Nigerian Customs, Immigration, deployed to the polling units, reported on time. Most of the polling units had adequate security. The Nigerian Military and Mobile Police Force provided security at the entrance and exit to Osun State as well as at the boundaries of Local Government Areas.

Conduct of Voters

Despite the envisaged fear, anxiety and uncertainty occasioned by pre-election build-up, the people of Osun State went out in significant numbers to the polling units to cast their votes. Most of the voters understood the electoral process and conducted themselves very well and this accounted for the peaceful atmosphere that was witnessed during and after the electoral activities.

Influence of Money: We did not observe any incident of vote buying, inducement or exchange of money.

SUGGESTIONS:

  1. INEC should put in place an accountability mechanism that rewards diligence and sanctions negligence.
  2. INEC should also post experienced, courageous and knowledgeable supervisors to the wards and Local Governments to assist in tackling logistics challenges in a way that does not undermine the electoral process.
  3. INEC should provide more Card readers and technicians.
  4. The Ballot boxes appear small and cannot accommodate most of the ballot papers. There is need to provide bigger ballot boxes for subsequent elections. 

COMMENDATION:

  1. NBA-EWG commends the people of Osun State for their peaceful conduct during the election. To a large extent the process was peaceful, orderly and successful.
  2. NBA-EWG commends the Nigerian Police Force and the other security agencies that provided security for the elections.
  3. The display of voters list at the polling station which enabled individuals to cross check and identify their names and numbers on the list before approaching the Electoral officers for accreditation and voting, eased the process. This was commendable.
  4. The adoption of accreditation and voting simultaneously has fast-tracked the process and consequently reduced the tension occasioned by frustration and impatience which could have ignited violence. This also was commendable.

CONCLUSION:

The conduct of this election is a great improvement from what we have witnessed in the past. However, the election was declared inconclusive by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and a rerun is scheduled to hold on the 27thof September, 2018.

Tawo E. Tawo SAN
Chairman
NBA-EWG

REPORT OF THE NBA AD-HOC ELECTION WORKING GROUP ON THE RERUN GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION IN OSUN STATE HELD ON THURSDAY, 27 SEPTEMBER 2018

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the Osun Governorship Election on the 22nd day of September, 2018. The election was declared inconclusive by INEC and a supplementary election was held on the 27th day of September, 2018in seven (7)polling units in four (4) Local Government Areas of the State, namely, Osogbo, Orolu, Ife North and Ife South. 

Members of the NBA Election Working Group, who had observed the elections on 22nd September 2018 and had prepared a Report thereon, were deployed to the affected Local Government Areas to observe the supplementary elections.

OBSERVATION REPORTS;

  1. OSOGBO;

Members of the NBA EWG arrived at Osogbo polling unit 17, ward 5, at about 7:00am. There was massive armed security presence with movement around the polling unit restricted to voters and observers. All the election materials were made available for the election. The electoral protocols for voting were fulfilled by the electoral officers at the unit.

Accreditation and voting commenced at about 8:02am. The voting process went on smoothly till about 11:30am when some hoodlums invaded the area in an attempt to disrupt the process. The situation was brought under control by the security personnel present. In spite of the seeming and subtle form of intimidation, voters were undaunted as they did cast their votes. There was substantial compliance with the election process and procedure at the polling units.

  1. OROLU:

The team deployed to observe the rerun election at Orolu, Ward 8, polling units 1 and 4 and ward 9, polling unit 3, set out for the assignment at about 6:30am. The team’s enthusiasm was dampened by their harassment and subsequent arrest by mobile policemen en-route Orolu. They were taken before Ali Janga, Commissioner of Police, at a Police Post. CP Ali Janga is in charge of Kogi State Police Command. Incidentally, the Secretary of the NBA ad-hoc EWG, Liman Salihu Esq. the immediate past chairman of the NBA Lokoja Branch, Kogi State, recognized the CP and showed his Identification Card to him but surprisingly the CP ordered that the team be taken to the INEC Office.

At the INEC office, it took one of our own, Festus Okoye Esq. who is currently the INEC Commissioner representing South-East Geopolitical Zone, to secure their release; he also facilitated the team’s movement to Orolu.

The road to Orolu is barely motorable and appears to have been recently graded for the purpose of the election. The location of the polling unit at Ifon Orolu Kajola was in a farm house inside a thick bush and there was only one unoccupied residence with a distance of about 80meters from the said polling unit. The materials for the election arrived on time at the respective units and voting proper commenced at the stipulated time of 8:00am.

There was heavy security presence with about thirty (30) armed Police officials at Orolu. At about 10:00am, while figuring out how to get to Idiya Polling Unit in Orolu, four (4) Toyota Hiace buses packed with about fifty (50) fierce looking men, drove in and the men alighted and walked towards the polling unit without any PVC in their hands.  In spite of the heavy security presence of the Nigerian Police, these men were not stopped nor asked if they were going to vote neither were they asked for their PVCs. This however aroused our suspicion.

A member of the NBA Ad-hoc EWG who attempted a recording of the happenings (a few seconds was recorded though) was almost attacked by about six (6) of these men. Surprisingly the Police officials stood aloof and did nothing to stop the invasion by this group of men. The reason given by the security men (Police officials) for their inaction was that they could not act without formal complaints from us.

Another observation at Orolu was that most of the voters had identification bands on their left arms and ring bands on their thumbs. Those with the said identification bands were allowed access into Orolu while those without the bands were not allowed access and so could not vote. Although these voters without the bands displayed their PVCs to the Police men on ground as evidence that they had been registered to vote at that particular polling unit, the Police personnel adamantly turned them back and as such they could not exercise their right to vote. Voters that were allowed to vote without the bands were those who had arrived earlier before the commencement of voting.

  1. IFE NORTH;

Election in Ife North was conducted in a village called Oyere. It was deep in a forest barely accessible by vehicle and was about two and half hours from Ile-Ife. There was strong security presence (The Nigerian Police Force) in and around the polling unit. Our representative observed that on his way to the polling unit, officials of the Nigerian Police force barricaded the road alongside some civilians. People were screened before they were allowed to proceed further; some were beaten because they had their phones with them which were seized. Some people were allowed to pass the checkpoint, but some others were turned back.

Although our representative introduced himself to the security personnel, they merely scoffed at him.  Our representative, for safety reasons, had to turn back as he was not given the opportunity to observe the rerun election at the aforementioned polling unit.

  1. IFE SOUTH:

The polling unit was at Olode, Adereti Village, Ward Code 16, Polling Unit 12, Area Code 07, LGA 07. The polling unit was divided into two polling points (polling unit 12A and 12B). The total number of accredited voters was Eight Hundred and Twelve (812). Materials arrived at about 7:00am and there was proper display of ballot papers. INEC provided the requisite materials for the polling unit and the presiding officer/other Supervisors confirmed they received the full complement of their materials.

The team observed that the armed officials (Nigerian Police, Army, Civil Defense Corps, FRSC, NDLEA) were about 10meters away from the polling booths. Voters turnout was quite impressive in spite of the rain and there was a good sense of gender balance.  Party agents present were the ACD, APGA and APC. There was no representation from the PDP. However, one of the party agents told us in confidence that he had to use another party’s name tag to conceal his identity as a PDP agent.

Voters’ education was duly conducted for voters present. The voting commenced at about 8:00am. The last voter on the queue cast his vote at about 12:05pm. The INEC officials waited till 2:00pm before declaring voting exercise closed. Cancellation of unused ballot papers commenced immediately while sorting of used ballot papers followed suit. Thereafter, vote counting, and announcement of election result was done by the presiding officer. This procedure was done in unit 12A and was repeated in unit 12B.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion the Rerun of the Osun state Gubernatorial Election fell far short of a free and fair election compared to what transpired in the election of the 22ndday of September, 2018 in Osun State which was however declared inconclusive. From the actions and inactions of the Nigerian Police Force they appeared to have been compromised given the fact that the Police did not question the activities of the about fifty (50) fierce-looking men who invaded the area at Orolu.

SUGGESTIONS;

  1. Polling Stations sited in the bush or where less than 20 residential places or houses which are not within a minimum of 50meters radius, should be relocated in future elections. Illustrative example is the above-mentioned polling units at Orolu.
  1. There should be proper sensitization, training and orientation programs for all security personnel deployed for election purpose. A special unit should be established within the security agencies for election purpose and other civil engagements.

Tawo E. Tawo SAN
Chairman
NBA-EWG

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