TMG Lauds INEC, Security Personnel For Peaceful Off-cycle Elections

...Reports Incidences Of Vote Buying

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The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has applauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the electorates for the peaceful conduct of the off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.

TMG also commended the professional conduct of the security personnel at various polling units across the three states where the elections were held.

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TMG’s Chairman, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) who gave the commendation in a statement on Saturday, disclosed that the security personnel reportedly conducted themselves in a very civil and professional manner.

“The security personnel comprised of members of Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), EFCC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as well as Nigerian Immigration Service and Nigeria Correctional Service all deployed at the polling units. Also observed were military personnel who mount adjoining streets to polling units and boundaries”, he said.

Giving the preliminary report of the group’s observation, Rafsanjani said, observers across the three states of Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi reported a slow start to the opening of polls in the polling units observed.

He said, “averagely, most of the polling units observed opened between 8:30 and 9:00 am. TMG observer reported that INEC Officials arrived at Amaimo ward- Umukpe Umuri, polling unit 005 at exactly 9:30 am”.

Rafsanjani noted that accreditation and voting commenced without hitches across the three states, adding that based on the feedback from the TMG observers, accreditation and voting simultaneously commenced around 9.00 am in most of the PUs observed.

“For example, PUs 006, 007 of Odo-Ere, Oke–Ere/Akata Ward of Yafba West LGA of Kogi State as well as PU 021, Ward 003 Epie in Bayelsa State as well as PU 006, Ward 008 Owudugbo in Ogbia, Bayelsa State respectively all opened around 9 am”, he said.

On the deployment of Materials and Staff, he said, the “TMG observers reported the arrival of materials and INEC officials to be between 8:00 am – 8:30 am in most polling units observed. These include Ward 17, Unit 004, Betto Open Space, Kolokuma 1, Bayelsa State and Ward Polling Unit 004, Community Secondary School, Lokogoma Village, Kogi State as well as Polling Unit 004, Owerri Municipal, Imo State respectively”.

Speaking on the functionality of the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), he said, the TMG observers reported adequate deployment and functionality of BVAS across polling units in the three states of Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi respectively.

“These were reported in PU 022, Ward 02, Owerri, PU 007, Ward 10 Tapere Egede Square, Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa, and PU 002, Ward 01 Bassa LGA of Kogi State respectively”, he said.

On People Living with Disabilities, the TMG chairman said, the Electoral Act 2022 provided that INEC should provide assistive materials that would aid the voting of PWDs across polling units in Nigeria.

He said, the “TMG observers reported low turnout of PWDs. However, observers also reported the availability of assistive materials such as magnifying lenses for the visually impaired but most of the polling units lack ramps which should have allowed ease of movement of the physically challenged. PWDs and the elderly were given voting preferences at the polling units observed by TMG”.

Rafsanjani said, the TMG observers reported higher voter turnout in Kogi and Imo states respectively.

He said, “hundreds of voters were seen on the queue in Ajaokuta, Adavi, Bassa, and Yagba West LGAs. However, observers reported low turnout in Bayelsa state due to poor weather conditions, difficult terrain, and logistics issues as well as voter apathy in a number of polling units. TMG observers reported a high turnout of voters in PUs 001, 002, 003, 005, Ganaja Junction of Ajaokuta LGA”.

On whether Party Agents were present at some polling units at the time of voting, the Chairman said, the “observers reported the presence of major political party agents in most of the polling units observed across the three states. These party agents were mostly representatives of the APC, PDP, Labour Party, and SDP. Nevertheless, observers reported the absence of party agents in some places”.

He said, the TMG observers also reported pockets of violence in a few of the polling units observed across the states. “Political thugs were reportedly killed by the military in Ayingba and Idah town in Ida LGA of Kogi State”, he noted.

Meanwhile, the TMG observers reported incidences of Vote Trading across the states.

Rafsanjani said, “while sections 121 and 127 of the Electoral Act 2022 prohibit vote trading, TMG observers reported that several means were devised to induce voters by desperate politicians who were seen doling out cash gifts ranging from N5,000 to N30,000, food items and clothing materials (wrappers) in some of the polling units observed. These include PU 010, Ekinrin-Ade, Ijumu LGA, Imiringi, PU 002, Ward 008, Ogbia LGA, Bayelsa




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