This is the preliminary report by the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), and Edo Civil Society Organizations (EDOCSO), from the TMG/EDOCSO Election Observation Platform on the Governorship Elections of September 19, 2020.
This report is based on a preliminary assessment of the field reports by our observers, both regular and citizens. These observers were deployed to polling units across the 18 local government areas (LGAs) of Edo State to observe the Election Day processes.
Field Reports Summary:
* Voters turnout was impressive in most polling units across the 18-local government observed.
*Security was fairly adequate in most places. This provided the confidence that most voters required to come out to vote.
*The election processes in most places were peaceful and orderly.
*Election materials were generally adequate
*INEC Ad-hoc staff showed commitment and largely appeared well trained.
*There was not much compliance with Covid-19 protocols in terms of social distancing, use of face masks and hand sanitizer in most polling units, although provision for hand sanitizer were made in many polling units.
ASSESSMENT OF INEC LOGISTICS EFFICIENCY.
There was a notable efficiency in INEC logistics, but some challenges were also noticed.
* Late arrival of election officials and materials in some polling units, resulting in late commencement of the election processes.
*Difficulties in the authentication of some registered voters due to malfunctioning of smart card readers.
*Cases of voting irregularities – unaccredited voters, assisted voting through party agents.
Voter turnout was generally encouraging across the state, though it was low in some polling units observed by our field observers. Voters were observed to arrive at many polling units well ahead of opening time. This was witnessed across different polling units in the state. The patience and the tenacity of voters to vote and defend their votes was a general trend observed.
COUNTING AND RESULT DECLARATION AT THE POLLING UNITS
Vote counting and result declaration at the polling units generally proceeded without much hitches. Counting and sorting of ballots were done openly in the presence of party agents, security personnel and election observers in most cases and the announced results were sent to the INEC portal and also displayed in conspicuous places for people to see.This enhances the credibility of the polls
VOTE BUYING AND OTHER ELECTORAL IRREGULARITIES OBSERVED
Incidences of voter inducement were noticed across the 18 local governments with the two major parties, APC and PDP involved and trying to outdo each other. Suspected party leaders were glaringly sharing money to group of voters mostly women in many polling units. In some cases, some unscrupulous INEC officials and security agents were involved in the bribe saga at the polling units.
Some party agents were seen giving out money, food, wrappers, (clothe) face masks to voters at the polling centers. Few Incidences of Illegal thump printing of ballot papers/stuffing and snatching were reported across many local government areas in the state. Pockets of electoral violence and intimidation were also noticed as a method of scaring away voters to disenfranchise them. Voters and security agents resisted in some instances.
COMPLIANCE WITH COVID-19 PROTOCOL
In most polling units visited, voters did not observe social distancing, many were allowed into various polling units without face masks. Cases of highest noncompliance with covid-19 protocols were common in places where hundreds of voters voted in clustered polling units
TMG Election Observation Platform is of the preliminary opinion that the election was relatively well executed and largely free and fair. The lapses observed were consistent with our experiences in previous elections. Our final report, which will be issued later, will expand on some of other issues observed.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi
Chairperson, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG)