Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has faulted the governorship re-run election in Osun State, saying that the conduct of some key stakeholders clearly ran contrary to democratic norms and standards, as well as best practices in the conduct of credible elections.
The CDD lamented that a number of the incidents recorded during the poll had undermined the sanctity of the vote and the overall credibility of the electoral process.
The Centre specifically frowned at the conduct of the security agents as well as political party stalwarts who took steps that were clearly inimical to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election.
The Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan disclosed this in a statement yesterday in Abuja, where she decried that election observers who attempted to carry out their legitimate duties were arrested and taken to nearby police station, and were only released after being denied the opportunity to keep an eye on the process so as to guarantee its credibility.
Hassan stated: “The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has carefully observed the governorship re-run election in Osun State with a conclusion that the conduct of some key stakeholders clearly ran contrary to democratic norms and standards, as well as best practices in the conduct of credible elections.
“CDD observers reported several cases of denial of access to polling units to observers, and even voters. CDD field observers deployed to observe the process and ensure its credibility, especially in Orolu and Osogbo Local Government Areas (LGAs), were intimidated, threatened and in some cases arrested by security forces.
“Credible reports from our field observers showed that despite being duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), several of the observers and journalists were stopped from observing the process.
“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 observers and deny them access to the polling unit. For instance, a CDD observer, Kemi Busari was arrested by the police on the pretext that he took pictures around a polling unit.”
Hassan pointed out that the police officer’s stance contradicts the statement of INEC, which made it clear that voters and participants were allowed to go with their phones to polling units, but not to polling booths after ballot paper must have been issued to an accredited voter.
She said that this particular incident clearly demonstrates the fact that the law enforcement agents were not properly informed about or deliberately ignored the INEC directive, which banned the use of phones in the voting cubicle, not around the overall polling environment.
CDD added, “In the face of the intimidation and unjust arrests, observers forced to leave the Polling Units. 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.”
The director stressed that 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.
According to her, “our observer also reported that election was disrupted in PU 17, Ward 5 Osogbo LGA as a result of sporadic shooting by some hoodlums.
“It is, therefore, recommended an urgent investigation into the roles and conduct of the security forces and political thugs in the Osun rerun with a view to sanctioning infractions and preventing a repeat during the 2019 polls.”