Yiaga Africa, a foremost Civil Society Organisation has alleged that high rate of insecurity and executive impunity especially by state Governors may impact on the conduct and outcome of the 2023 general elections.
The group said, the current security challenges, economic realities and political neutrality and composition of the Election Management Body, at both the National and Sub-National levels are contexts that create a more vulnerable system to electoral manipulation and electoral violence which are risk factors for the conduct of credible and acceptable elections.
This is contained in its pre-election observation report made available to the media on Friday. Yiaga Africa through its Watching The Vote project deployed 822 Long Term Observers across the 774 LGAs to observe the pre-election environment and report findings bi-weekly. The Pre-Election Observation (PREO) report captures the activities of the key election stakeholders: INEC, Political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), as well as indicators of electoral violence.
The first Pre-election Observation Report (PREO) released by Yiaga Africa revealed that, major issues that may impact on the process include, security of election personnel, materials and citizens and issues bordering on logistics especially for the deployment of poll officials and materials in hard to reach communities due to difficult and inaccessible terrain.
The group decried that, ddespite deliberate efforts by key stakeholders to ensure smooth processes, election periods are often not without foundational issues which tend to undermine its credibility. The report reveals that “more worrisome is the growing attacks on facilities and offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the state level, with the most recent attacks of destroying offices in Abeokuta South in Ogun, Edeh South LGA in Osun, Izzi LGA in Ebonyi and Oru West LGA in Imo states.
Specially, key findings in Yiaga Africa pre-election report include; Voter Inducements & Purchase of Permanent Voters Cards through monetary and other pecuniary means. Though voter inducement was reported in 33 states, it was more prevalent in the following states: Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Delta, Katsina, Kano, Niger, Oyo and Sokoto.
Specifically, buying of PVCs was reported in Ugwuachara, Echiaba Ward, in Ebonyi LGA by APC supporters. WTV observers reported that APC supporters went around the LGA giving citizens N10, 000 in exchange for the voter identification number on their PVCs. The supporters went house to house offering the citizens money and food items (Rice) the APC term empowerment. Some people were happy and collected the money while others refused to sell their vote.
Similarly, the report alleged that Kwara state, Baruten LGA, APC agents were said to have allocated and alerted APC party supporters to assemble and come with their details to access state government grants. The same was noticed in Itakudimo, Ilorin west where PDP agents were seen sharing N500 to residents and passersby to gain support after their meeting. In Oroke Onuoha, Achiaba Ward, Ebonyi LGA/Ebonyi State, supporters of APC were seen distributing food items to citizens while canvassing for votes. Also, in Bunkure LGA of Kano, party supporters were seen buying PVCs from citizens and giving out N5,000 and fertilizer.
The report also highlights pre-election violence in the form of verbal and physical attacks that have also been observed and reported by WTV LTOs in some LGAs in the country. A total of 60 reports of violent verbal attacks and 46 reports of violent physical attacks were received from 27 states of the country. However, these reports were more dominant in Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Niger Katsina, Rivers and Oyo states.
In Suleja LGA, Niger state, supporters of two prominent political parties fought, this ensued after a PDP party supporter allegedly dismantled and burned APC campaign posters. Also in Heipang, Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau State, a campaign billboard of APC presidential candidates was completely vandalized by unknown persons on the night of 24th November 2022.
Yiaga Africa Said, it received and confirmed a total of 21 critical incident reports within the last one month. These reports include incidents of hate speech, attacks on rallies, fighting between communities, attacks of INEC facilities, attacks against candidates or their supporters, voters’ inducement and vandalism or destruction of properties belonging to either candidates or their supporters. Reports of these incidents of violence and early warning signs were received from some LGAs in Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kano, Kwara, Kano, Niger, Rivers, Ogun and Osun states respectively.