Broken ballot boxes and other election materials destroyed during voting process. Photo Credit: Radio Nigeria
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) says the Presidential and National Assembly elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been marred by irregularities.
The CDD was reacting to data received from its approximately 4,900 field observers deployed across the country to monitor the elections.
The group named some of the incidents that undermined the election process to include operational issues, poor communication by INEC, violence, voter intimidation and vote-buying.
The centre made the observations in its post-election report on Tuesday.
The report, which was issued in Abuja by its Director, Idayat Hassan, also warned INEC of the likelihood of “a wave of litigations” after the declaration of the results, citing the irregularities which characterised the process.
The report reads: “Nigeria is likely to see another wave of electoral litigation in its courts that will likely reverse some electoral outcomes and perhaps even impact on governance in the short-term.”
While commending INEC for not postponing the elections unlike was previously the case, the report decried the late arrival of INEC officials to polling units, as well as challenges experienced with the BVAS in many places.
It said: “Although less than 8.7% of observers witnessed this taking place in south-south, 5.9% in south-west, 9.6% in the north-east, 4.2% in the south-east and 7.7% in the north-central zone; technical issues were also noted by our observers, with 23.1% having witnessed issues of BVAS malfunction.”
The Centre also criticised INEC for what it described as “the poor handling of the Result Viewing Portal (IReV”), which it stressed was designed to provide real-time transmission of election results (Form EC 8A) polling units to the central collation centre.
The IReV, it noted, was designed to enhance the transparency of the process, and reduce incidences of vote-rigging.
“As at 9pm on election day, there were no results uploaded to the platform for the presidential results,” it complained, adding that at 11:00 on Monday, February 27, “only 53,154 polling unit results, out of a total of 176,734, were publicly available on the platform”.
“This election also saw an increased use of basic foodstuffs, household goods and materials being exchanged for votes, with observers in states such as Kwara, Imo and Bayelsa all reporting numerous incidents,” the report said.
“In Lagos, there was even evidence of politicians willing to provide bank transfers to voters under the guise of “business assistance schemes”.
The CDD report, however, applauded the turnout of Nigerians, especially young people, despite well-documented instances of insecurity in all six geopolitical zones, and the fuel as well as currency scarcity that threatened to derail the process.
It recommended an independent post-election review by a group of civil society organisations that observed the election, alongside representatives of legal bodies, to provide a report and recommendations on “a way forward” for “continued improvement in the management of elections” in Nigeria.
Writing by Julian Osamoto; Editing by Tony Okerafor