Justice Development and Peace Makers Centre (JDPMC) considered the September 2018 Osun governorship election to be fundamental to the evolution of democracy and social development in Osun State and Nigeria as a whole. Our observation of the election therefore was undertaken with the conviction that the gubernatorial election is a major indicator for measuring the socio-democratic situation of Osun and Nigeria.
As a Civil Society Organization, JDPMC’s participation in the electoral processes covered assessment of the pre-election activities of INEC as the election umpire, the state security agencies, various institutions of the state and federal government, political parties and the 48 gubernatorial candidates as well as the electorate during the period. The intent was to ascertain how they meet compliance and performance expectations under the relevant laws regulating their engagement in the electoral processes. The Organization specially carried out Campaign Finance Monitoring in Partnership with the International Institute for Electoral System (IFES). The goal was to track and share our findings on the compliance of the three major parties- APC, SDP, PDP with the provisions of the electoral law regulating campaign funding and the use of State Administrative Resources. We also carried out voter’s education in partnership with MISEREOR- Germany to encourage lawful participation of the citizens in the electoral process. Finally, we collaborated with various credible CSOs in organizing various activities including the gubernatorial candidates’ pre-election debates.
ELECTION OBSERVATION PROCESS OF JUSTICE, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE MAKERS’ CENTRE, OSOGBO
Accredited to observe the election in all the 30 LGAs of the state with 30 accredited observers, Justice Development and Peace Makers Centre trained and deployed 30 observers to all the 30 LGAs of Osun State in order to gather first-hand information on the main election proceedings of 22nd of September, 2018 in randomly sampled 120 wards, and 350 polling units across the State with a followed up the process up to each of to the 30 LG Collation Centre. Two key Observers followed up the process from the LGs to the State up till the announcement of the result by the Returning Officer of the Election. The process was guided by a checklist which was designed to track important information that has to do with the general administration of election, conduct of electoral umpire on Election Day; the conducts of the electorates, the performance of various institutions of the government, the state security as well as the conducts of the political parties on the Election Day.
Objectives of the JDPMC Election Observation
The Observation had the following objectives
- Track the transparency of the process
- Assess the state of security
- Assess the compliance of all stakeholders with the laws regulating the conduct of election
- Assess the participation of the electorate in the election
Indicators used to observe the general conduct of election by our observers are stated below
- The arrival of Poll officials and Materials.
- Setting up of Polling Units
- Accreditation and Voting
- Vote buying
- Involvement of Security personnel
- Counting and Announcement
- General conducts of the Electorates
- General conducts of the Political Party Agents
- The arrival of Poll officials and Materials
On the Election Day, it was observed that about 98% of the total polling units opened before 8am. At Ward 5, polling Unit 3 in Irewole LGA, the INEC officials even arrived before 7am. The INEC officials were seen at the polling unit setting up of election materials to be used. They were also seen pasting voters registers and the polling unit information on the walls of the polling Centres. It was also obser
ved that the election materials were properly packaged and intact as the INEC officials showed the observers and party agents the state of the materials before opening them. Party agents were satisfied. It was reported in some polling units like Ward 5 PU 8 in Odo-Otin LGA, Ward 5 PU 5 in Ilesa West LGA and Ward 2 PU 7 in Ejigbo LGA that election materials provided were more than the numbers of registered voters while in Ward 7 PU 12, the election materials were below the number of registered voters.
- Setting up of Polling Units.
The polling unit set up in terms of arrangement of election materials in majority of the voting centres visited was well arranged. We observed that 41 of the polling units where we deployed observers were divided into 2 voting point because of the numbers of voters at the polling unit. For instance at Ward 5 PU5 in Ilesa East LGA, the polling unit was divided into two voting points because the number of voters at that Polling unit was more than 500. The entire polling units were demarcated using rope in order to restrict frivolous movement of voters. The ballot box was also placed in full view of the public in close vicinity to the voting cubicle, this enhanced secrecy of voting. But in many polling units in Ede North LGA, the ballot box was placed far away from the cubicle where voters vote as against INEC instruction which earlier stated that the cubicle must not be far away from the ballot box. Minimum of three INEC officials were seen at different polling units across the state. They were seen explaining the voting process to the electorate before the commencement of the election in the entire polling unit.
- Accreditation and Voting
In most of the polling units across the state, accreditation of voters commenced at exactly 8am. There were few cases of omission of voter’s name on the voters register. This occurred in Ward 2 PU7 in Ejigbo LGA. Inability of Card reader to read the PVC and authenticate some electorates was also recorded in few LGA like Ward 5 PU 5 in Ilesa East, Ward 5 PU001 in Boripe LGA. The process of voting and accreditation went smoothly in most of the polling unit visited by our observers across the 30 LGAs in the State and INEC officials conducted themselves in an orderly manner. However, there were few cases in which the arrangement of ballot box and the cubicle were not in line with INEC’s directives which stated that the cubicle must not be far away from the ballot box in order to prevent vote buying. This was however prevalent in almost all the polling units in Ede North LGA.
- Vote buying
There were many cases of vote buying at various polling units across the state although they are not immediately obvious. Tallies and other means of identification were used to exchange money in designated locations that were mostly at least 300 meters away from the polling stations. There were also secret discussions among different groups during voting which eventually promoted vote buying during the election. It was alleged by locals that the amount used in buying the vote vary from each polling units to another and also depended on the negotiating power of anyone who desires to sell the vote and the party who wish to buy vote. It was also alleged by locals at Ward 5 PU 1 in Boripe Local Government, some party agents were sharing #2,000 to the electorates who wished to vote for them and #3,000 to registered party members while agents of other major parties shared #1,000 to anyone who wished to vote for them. At Ward 10, PU 10 in Egbedore Local Government, our observer confirmed that electronic transfer of #2,000 was done by some party agents to some voters who voted for their candidate.
- Counting and Announcement
The counting of the ballot papers were sorted according to the political parties voted by the voters. And the results were publicly announced by the Presiding Officer at the entire polling unit. Moreso, political party agents also appended their signatures on the result sheets and the result was pasted on the wall for the public to see at different polling units. There was 100% agreement of party agents with the results at the polling units.
- General conducts of the Electorates
Early in the morning, the voters were seen going to their different poling units to vote. Electorates conducted themselves in an orderly manner in most of the polling units observed. The peaceful conduct of the electorates made the election to be adjudged to be the most peaceful elections had in the recent time. There was 100 % compliance in all polling units that we deployed observers to the new regulation of INEC on the non-use of phone or camera at the voting cubicle.
- General Conducts of the Political Party Agents
Most of the political parties agents present at the polling units were calm except that many of them contributed to the vote buying process. In some polling units in Ede, many agents were seated close to the ballot boxes in order for them to know who actually voted for their party for them to give returns.
- General Conducts of Security Agents
98% of the Security agents generally conducted their affairs with high sense of integrity. They did not interfere in the process and ensured security of polling officials, materials as well as the voters and the vicinity of the polling stations and collation centres.
OSUN RE-RUN ELECTION HELD ON THE 27TH OF SEPTEMBER, 2018
The Re-run election of Osun State was held in 7 polling units across three LGAs on the 27th of September, 2018. The LGAs where the re-run elections were held include: Ife North, Ife South, Orolu and Osogbo. The supplementary election was held as the result of irregularities such as ballot box snatching by thugs in some polling units, abscondment of the presiding officer, the number of votes was more than the accredited voters.
Despite the fact that the polling units were opened before 7am in most of the 7 polling units, the total conduct of the exercise was not peaceful like the earlier election held on the 22nd of September, 2018. 8 observers were deployed by JDPMC. Our observers were able to observe at Ward 8 Kajola village, PU 001, Ward PU 004, all in Orolu LGA, Olode Ward 7 PU 012 in Ifetedo LGA. It was generally characterized by violent intimidation of voters. Hoodlums attacked supporters of rival parties in Orolu and Ife North LGAs. Most of the deployed observers accredited under various organizations were prevented from performing their functions mainly by security agents who either made frivolous demands or hoodlums who attacked them both in Orolu and Ife North LGAs, as such most of the activities were shrouded in secrecy between the polling officials, security agents and thugs of political party that had control of certain polling stations. Where observers and media agents were allowed, the party thugs limited their activities with certain restrictions under threats. Security personnel were considered to be partisan either by their selective treating of violators of electoral laws or their passivity or slow reaction to threats and violence unleashed on voters, party supporters, observers and the media. Many observers and media could not wait for the counting of the votes in the polling units due to security threats as their presence seemed to be unwelcomed by dominating party agents.
The supplementary election was adjudged to be one of the worse elections conducted in the recent time that is found to be far below the international standard.
OUR GENERAL OBSERVATION ON THE ELECTION HELD ON THE 22ND SEPTEMBER, 2018.
During the course of observing the election and the supplementary, we observed the following:
- That the polling units were opened very early around 7am in almost all the polling units across the state. We give commend INEC for the promptness.
- That the election materials both sensitive and non-sensitive were intact and in good condition in most of the polling units despite early distribution of these materials to different area in 48 hours to the election.
- That the INEC officials on the field conducted themselves in a peaceful manner and were able to manage the crowd in most of the polling units. It was seen that the INEC officers demarcated the polling areas to prevent frivolous movement of the voters. This actually restricted unnecessary movement of voter.
- Although there were incidents of vote buying, it was done secretly.
- In some of the polling units visited, it was observed that INEC’s directive of putting the ballot boxes closer to the cubicle to prevent vote buying was not obeyed, also Political Party agents were found seated closer to the ballot boxes in some of the polling units too.
- It was also observed that the security personnel conducted themselves in an orderly manner during election proceedings. They didn’t interrupt the electioneering process and allowed both local and foreign observers to perform their duties. No case of security agent misbehavior was recorded at election period.
- There were disparities in the approach of polling officers to challenges with card readers. For instance, in Isedo 1, Unit 10 Ward 4 in Ila LGA, persons whom the card reader could not validate their voters card with the finger print were not allowed to vote while in Ward 3 Unit 4 Oke Atan in Boluwaduro LGA, voters whose cards are recognized by the card reader but whose identity was not validated through the finger print were allowed to vote.
OUR GENERAL OBSERVATION ON THE RE-RUN ELECTION HELD ON THE 27TH SEPTEMBER, 2018.
During the re-run election that was held in 7 polling units in the 3 LGAs, the following observations were made:
- The re-run election was characterized by violence in some of the polling units in Orolu, Osogbo and Ife South LGA. The polling unit was populated by party agents and the representative of APC, hoodlums who worked with the political thugs who intimidated the opposition and the observers. No agent of PDP was present. The general atmosphere of the road ten kilometers up to the polling station was very bad, tensed and characterized by sense of insecurity and danger.
- Security agents seemed to have been compromised in performing their duties as nothing was done to check incidents thuggery and intimidation in the election process.
- Massive vote buying was recorded in the re-run election openly as against the secret method adopted during the September, 22 election. This occurred in Ward 10 PU 002 in Ife North LGA.
- Many people especially the PDP party faithful were denied to perform their franchise as many of the APC thugs chased them away.
- Domestic observers were also hindered form observation of the election at the early hours of the day. Moreso, some domestic observers were arrested by the security operatives without any reason but later released at the intervention of some Civil Society Organizations only after many exercises such as voting had started and even finished in places such as Ward 8 Kajola village, PU 001 in Orolu LGA.
- Political thugs also hindered the media from covering the election process. As a matter of fact, some media personnel were beaten up and their cameras destroyed.
OUR CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATION
Following the above reports on the two elections across the 30 LGAs of the State including the area office, these are our concerns and recommendations:
- We call on INEC to develop more stringent measures in the screening and accreditation of Observers. We also recommend the production of electronically verifiable meas of identifying both local and foreign observers. This could drastically curb the use of political party agents as observers.
- We urge INEC to build on the success recorded pertaining to the early opening of the polling units across the state in the forthcoming general elections and subsequent election that shall be held in the country.
- We call on INEC to make public the E-data collection process and E- transmission of results from different polling units as this will promote transparency in our electoral systems.
- In order to avoid vote buying, JDPMC recommends more stringent laws against vote buying.
- We strongly call on the government to genuinely develop measure that would ensure neutrality of security agents throughout the process of elections.
- We recommend that INEC Ad-hoc staffs which are the NYSC members be given adequate trainings as few of their staffs were not well equipped on some things to do on the field.