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Saturday polls: CSO commends INEC, decries voter apathy, vote-buying

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Saturday polls: CSO commends INEC, decries voter apathy, vote-buying

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.....says Kogi, Bayelsa mar with election irregularities

A Civil Society Organisation, Connected Development has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agencies in the conduct of the governorship polls in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states on Saturday.

Head of Uzabe elections situation room, CODE, Emmanuel Njoku, who spoke on behalf of his team in Lokoja, Kogi State on Saturday noted that with its electoral officers sent across the three states, INEC officials arrived on time and voting in most polling units was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.

According to him, “I want to commend the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission, our diligent security operatives, and the people and government of these three states, for their unwavering commitment to a free, fair and credible electoral process.

“We want to commend the INEC for the early deployment of Adhoc staff and materials which ensured the early commencement of voting in various wards. Notably, priority voting for the elderly has been observed in various locations like Mopa-Muro LGA in Kogi (Pandaya Market) and Ekeremor LGA (Ayama Ward) in Bayelsa amongst others.”

But CODE identified some concerns such as vote-buying, explaining that “Bayelsa witnessed delayed voting in Kanabiri comp Ward of Sagbama LGA due to the absence of party agents, and late arrival of INEC officials at Yenogoa-Fankpo Square Ward.

“An incident in Ekeremor LGA (Azidekeoreyeine Square Ward), involved an individual attempting to abscond with INEC materials, but citizens resolved the situation without injuries. This stands as a testament to the collective power of the masses.

“While we cannot conclusively speak to voter turnout at this time, low voter turnout has been reported in some parts of these states. like we observed at Owerri North at Okwu Uratta Primary School Ward.

“Disturbingly, in Bayelsa, Market Square Ogia Town Ward of Ogbia LGA, verified reports of vote buying have surfaced, with amounts going as high as N20,000. This was also observed at Ama-Ukwu Umuawaka Square Ward, of Njaba LGA, Imo state where votes were traded for as low as one thousand naira. This practice is disturbing and must be halted.”

CODE further called on all stakeholders and voters to maintain their commitment to a peaceful electoral process.

“We implore the security personnel to be on alert, as history has shown that the tendency for violence gets higher during this phase of our elections, to ensure the continued security of the electoral proceedings.

“We also implore INEC officials to carry out their duties with efficiency. Most importantly, we call on INEC to ensure that polling unit results are electronically transmitted from the polling units to the INEC Result Viewing Portal, to promote transparent result management and a timely collation process, as this is yet another opportunity for INEC to redeem their image and build trust in our electoral process.”