The 2022 Ekiti Gubernatorial Election has finally kicked off. As we draw closer to the mid-day point, here are some observations from the Election Analysis Centre run by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CIJD), formerly known as the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).
The Centre trained and deployed a total of 28 observers throughout the 16 Local Government Areas of the state as early as 7:00 am this morning. They are currently sending real-time reports and facts on events on the field and will remain there until the close of polls and the announcement of results.
We applaud the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in ensuring that materials and personnel were deployed on time. Because of this, we recorded an average Polling Unit (PU) opening time of 8:36 am. Additionally, the elections have been mainly peaceful, despite the fears surrounding specific flashpoints identified in preliminary findings. Unlike Anambra last year, there have been a few complaints recorded on the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). Where there were issues with BVAS, however, our observers reported that they were resolved quickly.
We have also recorded a high level of adherence to section 54 of the Electoral Act. Observers have recorded priority lines for pregnant women, the aged and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in more than 60% of the PUs observed. However, we have recorded adverse reactions to the separate queues created with complaints of such lines being unfair to others in the general queues. Examples of polling units where elderly persons, pregnant women, and parents with children were deprived of priority voting include PU 003, Ward 09 (Iluomoba) LG in Gbonyin; PU 004, Ward 1, Irepodun Ifelodun LGA; PU: 008 Near Onisa House, Ward 2, Odo Ise, Iṣẹ/Orun.
We would like to use this opportunity to encourage Nigerians to obey the laws and respect the rights of priority citizens in elections. For future elections, we suggest that INEC paste priority voting statements at polling units to serve as a means of sensitising voters.
Also, there has been an alarming amount of vote-buying recorded by our observers. From bargaining prices for votes to payments made in uncompleted buildings and bags of foodstuff being shared after votes have been cast. Unfortunately, Party agents have been identified to be at the centre of this electoral offence. We would like to remind Nigerians about the value of their votes and implore citizens of Ekiti to not engage in selling their votes in order to secure their democratic future.
Additionally, Party agents have been seen to be at loggerheads with security personnel over their disconcerting proximity to the voting booths. Some have been observed to be taking down names of voters in order to facilitate payments and they were also reportedly forcefully ‘assisting’ voters in a ploy to manipulate them. We would like to remind the public that this is an electoral offence punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment and we call on political parties and INEC to investigate these matters.
Finally, a low level of adherence to the COVID-19 guideline has been recorded. We implore everyone to observe the COVID-19 protocols as the safety of citizens is a foremost concern. In exercising your franchise, we would like to remind you that it is better to be safe than sorry.
We stand in solidarity with all actors, voters and observers, and wish everyone a peaceful and fruitful election day.
The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)
International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
Daily Trust Newspaper