An election monitoring group, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), has faulted the ongoing rerun election in Osun State as anti-democratic.
The CDD noted that the number of the incidents recorded during the poll have undermined the sanctity of the vote and the overall credibility of the electoral process.
“we hold strongly the view that the re-run poll of Thursday, September 27, 2018, does not meet up with the minimum standards for free, fair and credible elections,” the CDD said in a statement.
“It falls short of global best practices in democratic elections which Nigeria aspires towards,” it added.
Although, voting has closed at about 2:00 p.m across the seven polling units for the rerun, the official collation of results is yet to start in Osogbo as at the time of filing this report.
The rerun election is being held at seven polling units, three polling units in Orolu, two polling units in Ife South, one polling unit in Ife North local governments and one polling unit in Osogbo, the state capital where votes were cancelled during the Saturday 22nd September governorship election in the state.
On Saturday, Ademola Adeleke, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, polled 254,698 votes to beat Gboyega Oyetola, the All Progressives Congress, who trailed him with 254,345 votes.
INEC, however, declared the election inconclusive because the margin between the PDP and APC, 353 votes, is less than the number of registered voters, 3,498, in the seven polling units where elections were cancelled.
The director of the monitoring group, Idayat Hassan, said her organisation observed widespread misconduct by security agencies, including intimidation of accredited journalists, observers and even voters of the opposition party.
“CDD field observers deployed to observe the process and ensure its credibility, especially in Orolu and Osogbo LGAs, were intimidated, threatened and in some cases arrested by security forces,” CDD said.
Earlier today, The Guardian reported as INEC expressed concern over reports that some observers and journalists were being arrested and prevented from operating in some polling units in the exercise.
The commission said this in a tweet, adding, however, that the issue was being taken up with the security agencies.
The CDD observers reported “palpable tension in Ifon, Orolu LGAs due to the high-handed conduct of the security agents who seemed bent to sway the vote the way of certain partisan interests.”
“At Ajegunle Roundabout, which leads to Polling Unit 003 Ward 9 Gbogbo Primary School in Orolu LGA, security personnel mounted barricades to obstruct observer and deny them access to the polling unit.
“Observers who attempted to carry out their legitimate duties were arrested and taken to nearby police station. They were only released after being denied the opportunity to keep an eye on the process so as to guarantee its credibility,” the statement said.
CDD said, “In the face of the intimidation and unjust arrests, observers were forced to leave the Polling Units.”
The think-tank also confirmed widespread reports that potential voters of the opposition were being driven away from polling areas by security agencies.
“CDD also observed attempts by members of the security forces to prevent some voters who allegedly belong to opposition party from accessing PU012 Olode Ward 07 in Ife-South LG, even after showing their PVCs.
“Also, despite all efforts by INEC and civic group to ensure violence-free polls, some political actors mobilised thugs and hoodlums to intimidate voters, journalists and observers.
“Chang Mantu, a senior police officer involved in the coordination of security in the Osun election, explained in Osogbo that there was an attempt by some party men disguising as observers to gain access to Orolu in the early hours of Thursday. He said they were arrested by the police.
“According to him, they loaded in a bus and when they were screened, they were found to be members of a political party. He explained the development was the reason why there were restrictions into the area as it was difficult for security officials to know those who were genuine observers and journalists.
“Our observer also reported that election was disrupted in PU 17, Ward 5 Osogbo LGA as a result of sporadic shooting by some hoodlums. In terms of the sanctity of the vote, CDD observers reported over five attempts by impostors to vote with PVCs from other Wards at PU012 Olode Ward 07 in Ife-South LGA.
“Although these attempts were unsuccessful, they nonetheless reflect the kind of impunity, which undermines the credibility of the process,” it said.
“Coming as the last off-cycle election before the 2019 general election, the conduct of the security forces, politicians and their supporters are sources of concern to strengthening our democratic process.
The group thereby “recommend an urgent investigation of the roles and conduct of the security forces and political thugs in the Osun re-run with a view to sanctioning infractions”.