Foreign and international observers, who monitored Wednesday Edo State governorship election have expressed reservations about the conduct of the election, pointing out that they were denied entry into the collation centre and that security operatives at the polling units looked the other way while politicians and their agents induced voters with money.
Prof Ahmed Ansari, head of the African Union Observer Team, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve on the functionality of the card readers as he noted that the machine did not work in some polling units.
He said along with other international observer groups such as the American Observer team, the British Council and others from the Netherlands and Scotland, the full reports of their impression of the election would be submitted to the INEC and other important election stakeholders.
He said, “The turnout was quite impressive, but there were problems here and there. Another challenge was understaffing. We saw situation whereby only one staff was in a polling unit. That was not good enough.
There were reports of inducement. Every party complained about inducement which to me mean that all of them were guilty. The electorate are not supposed to sell their consciences. To the politicians, it shouldn’t be about money.
He further stated that “as the head of an international observer team, we were not allowed to go to the collation centres at a particular time. That is something we need to complain about. I asked who gave the instruction; who gave the order? It couldn’t be INEC.
“It Could be, as they call it, order from above? But the security men told me that ‘sir, this is the order given to us.’ In every situation, one person is allowed to be there. Even when we delegated Victor (his assistant) to go in, he was not allowed to go into the hall.
He said, “He (Victor) was allowed to come within the compound, but was not inside the nucleus, where the whole the exercise took place, adding that “we should be there; we should get the result sheet. We should have a copy but we don’t have copies for now.”
On the rescheduling of collation of results, Prof Ansari said, “it could be for security reasons based on advice, but I didn’t know why they had to stop and leave it for a particular time. Off course, there was no call for it.”
When asked what security operatives could have done upon noticing that money was exchanging hands at the polling units, he said “that depends on the order they gave them.”
Also speaking, Christian Victor from the African Union for Economic, Social and Cultural Council, said many of the things observed in the field on Wednesday were not the kind of things that should happen in an election.
He said, “One of them is that everywhere we visited was filled with money flying around. Some people were fighting some voters for not voting the political parties they were paid for. It was very disappointing that this kind of thing still happens in the Nigeria political system.
“I watched the security agencies and it was clear they understood that monies were flying but for reasons best known to them they did not stop it. There were cases of young men, who looked like thugs, driving around during the election.
“They were never stopped by security agencies. That is wrong where there is a restriction of movement. I also saw wealthy people moving around in SUVs during the election.
“I have been party of many elections and I have never seen a situation whereby observers and journalists are not allowed into collation centres.”
A local observer, Sadoh Danladi Sunday, states that it was shocking that the results announced by the INEC did not tally with those his group got from the field.