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CDD:  Decreased Trust in INEC, Violence, Vote-buying Blighted States Polls

CDD:  Decreased Trust in INEC, Violence, Vote-buying Blighted States Polls

Emameh Gabriel in Abuja

Pro-democracy think tank, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) Election Analysis Centre (EAC) has pointed the decrease in trust in Independent National  Electoral Commission (INEC),  violence and vote-buying as factors that affected the weekend governorship and state houses assembly elections across the country.

Speaking to  journalists and election stakeholders during the post-election briefing in Abuja yesterday, Chairman of the CDD EAC, Professor Adele Jinadu and Director, Idayat Hassan said despite the improved conduct of the governorship and houses  of assembly elections by INEC, the process was undermined by the combination of violence, vote-buying, online and offline intimidation of voters, disinformation and decreased citizens’ trust in INEC.

The group stressed that despite INEC’s improved performance during these elections, the perceived questionable credibility of the conduct of presidential and National Assembly polls in the minds of many voters has shaped how Nigerians viewed the 18 March process and their engagement in it.

According to the CDD, “diminished trust in INEC as an institution will shape wider perceptions when it comes to the acceptance of the results returned, particularly in races where a narrow margin of victory is recorded or where presidential results are not replicated at the sub-national level.”

The group reported that its data showed violence occurred in 10.8 per cent of polling units observed. It further pointed out that voter suppression, voter intimidation and the destruction or theft of election materials predominantly by political party agents and politically aligned thugs were recorded across all six geopolitical zones.

It said: “10.8 per cent of observed polling units recorded violence and/or fighting this was most pronounced in the North-west (19.9 per cent) and South-south (11.6 per cent) geopolitical zones with Bayelsa and Zamfara the two states with the most incidents recorded by our observers.”

The analysis  further showed that  in some polling units, the violence was unleashed  to intimidate, suppress and destroy election materials. These disruptive activities, the group said, caused a multiplier effect, which further led to the reduction of voters’ appetite to cast their ballots.

“In the first six hours of polls being open on 18 March CDD’s war room team came across a flurry of voter intimidation videos, particularly from Lagos state where it was ensconced in rhetoric about belonging and ethnic identity, an illustration of the ways that voter intimidation took place both online, as well as offline.

On the specific actors responsible for the violence, which affected the elections, CDD listed them as non-state actors, political thugs and political party agents. It said the objective of these groups was to disrupt election processes with violence,” they said.

 “Victims of this violence were first and foremost voters, some of whom were denied the right to exercise their franchise as a result of polling units cancelling results or having their ballot boxes snatched.

“Even though some efforts were made, where possible, to hold polls the following day for example. But there were also attacks directed at, or threats made towards, ad-hoc INEC staff with one shot in Cross River and more than 10 kidnapped after voting in Imo state journalists reporting on the election in Lagos, Rivers and Ogun, domestic election observers and other party agents.

“Violence also targeted BVAS in order to disrupt the process and ensure the cancellation of results, with notable incidents taking place in Warri South West LGA, Delta and Ezza North LGA, Ebonyi state,” they added.

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