By Yomi Kareem
Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, has condemned in totality, the massive vote buying that characterized the Ekiti State governorship election, saying it is blatant violation of the Electoral Act.
In an interim statement issued today and jointly signed by Ene Obi, Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Asma’u Joda James Ugochukwu, Co-Convener respectively, said they made the following observations.
Vote Buying: “Situation Room received reports of widespread vote buying by political party agents across the 16 Local Government Areas of the State. In many instances, voters were induced with money ranging from N4,500 to N10,000 by asking them to flag completed ballot papers as proof of voting in the specified manner in what they term “See and Buy”. Situation Room strongly condemns this blatant violation of the electoral law.
However, Situation Room maintained that the election has been generally peaceful, with voters conducting themselves in a civil manner in most of the polling units. But, the redistribution of voters done by INEC still does not take care of the issue of large number of voters in some polling units as many new polling units had abysmally low numbers while older polling units remain overcrowded. And that there were also polling units sited in private residences such as PU006 Omiragunsin’s House, Okemesi Ward 1, Ekiti West LGA and PU003 in front of Ezekiel’s House Iroro/Ita Alafia Iroro Imegun, Ward 3 Araromi Omuo, Ekiti East LGA.
On the issue of logistics, it posited that logistics and commencement of Poll, it observed early arrival of Poll officials and election materials in 93 percent of the polling units observed.
And that set up was done promptly and polls commenced before 9:00am in at least 88% of the locations. Saying this is an improvement of both the Anambra State Governorship Election 2021 and FCT Area Councils Elections 2022.
Adding that the Bi-Modal Verification Accreditation System, BVAS, was functional in at least 76% of the voting locations. However, there have been many reports of delays and malfunctioning BVAS machines in some voting units especially those with many registered voters. Examples of the locations where the machines malfunctioned are PU 002 Igbaletere by Mechanic Workshop, Ward 6 Ado Okeyinmi, Ado-Ekiti LGA where the Machine was going on and off intermittently, PU 007 LA Primary School Oke Afin, Otun Ward III and PU018 Igogo Ward II both in Moba LGA where the BVAS failed, and PU 014, Ward I Okemesi, Ekiti West LGA, amongst others. It said INEC’s distribution of the BVAS devices was not proportionate to the population of registered voters by polling unit.