Say Rerun Derogates from Gains in Electoral Process The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos and the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room have condemned the humiliation of journalists and observers during the Osun state governorship election that ended with a rerun on Thursday. IPC is particularly piqued by the action of security agents and hired thugs
Say Rerun Derogates from Gains in Electoral Process
The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos and the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room have condemned the humiliation of journalists and observers during the Osun state governorship election that ended with a rerun on Thursday. IPC is particularly piqued by the action of security agents and hired thugs who prevented journalists from carrying out their professional responsibility. Although it deployed observers to all the seven polling units spread across four Local Government Areas (LGAs) scheduled for the rerun election, the Situation Room said it was impossible to get any feedback from Orolu LGA.
Said the Situation Room, “It was difficult to confirm in Orolu LGA how the voting process started, as media and election observers were denied access during the early part of the day. Reports from Orolu LGA indicated incidents of intimidation, harassment and arrest of election observers. Observers and media persons who attempted to enter the LGA were stopped during most of the morning hours, and until intervention by INEC.” “There were also reports of political thugs and hoodlums being used to intimidate voters, with the security forces standing by and failing to act,” the group said.
“The various humiliations faced by journalists during the Osun State governorship election was very unfortunate and an impediment on democracy. The various incidents only portray what is likely going to occur during the forthcoming general election if immediate actions are not taken,” said IPC Director, Mr Lanre Arogundade as he lists the series of violations.
According to a report from Premium Times, 22nd September, 2018 “A mob attacked Oladipo Abiodun a Premium Times election observer at CAC, Ward 3 polling unit at Isokan Local Government Area of Osun State. He was harrassed by some persons because they suspected he was taking pictures. Mr Abiodun’s jacket was torn and his tag was destroyed by hoodlums.”
“Kemi Busari, a Premium Times journalist who covered the Osun rerun election, was briefly arrested by the police on Thursday morning for taking pictures at Polling Unit one, Ward 8, Orolu Local Government Area. Mr. Busari who arrived the polling unit at about 7.40a.m. thought it fit to capture the voting process, but this landed him in police custody.”
“Some journalists were sent back mid-way on their journey to cover the rerun election in Ifon Osun, Orolu Local Government Area. They were sent back by police officers who were on the spot to barricade the entrance to the polling unit. The incident happened around 11.30a.m.”
The barred journalists were from diverse platforms such as Premium Times, The Cable, Sahara Reporters and some local media.
“We therefore call on all media stakeholders and international agencies to dialogue and chart the way forward for a peaceful environment for journalists to carry out their responsibilities during the general elections,” Arogundade said, demanding a public apology from the Police for such despicable action.
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room observed that though it received reports of early arrival of materials and INEC officials in most of the polling units where the rerun elections were conducted, it was difficult to confirm in Orolu LGA how the voting process started, as media and election observers were denied access during the early part of the day. Reports from Orolu LGA indicated incidents of intimidation, harassment and arrest of election observers. Observers and media persons who attempted to enter the LGA were stopped during most of the morning hours, and until intervention by INEC.
The group therefore observed as follows:
- The election was heavily policed with police and other security personnel, including the Army, overwhelmingly deployed across the seven polling units of the election, in a manner that created heavy tension and apprehension among voters. There were also reports of political thugs and hoodlums being used to intimidate voters, with the security forces standing by and failing to act.
2. Observers also reported incidences of violence and gunshots around some of the polling units and attacks against opposing political sides, with supporters of a particular party being prevented from voting.
3. In a polling unit, the Smart Card Reader did not verify some PVCs and yet ballot papers were issued and votes allowed to be cast.
4. There were reports of agents with large sums of money apprehended around the polling units and alleged fake observers.
“It is clear that the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the elections in the seven polling units where the elections were re-run, including violence, also repeated themselves in most of this election, raising questions on why results obtained under these conditions should now stand.”
The Situation Room is further concerned that the entirety of the Osun State re-run election derogates from the recent gains made in our elections process and the confidence that was beginning to be built. The lapses in the Osun State re-run elections has put a serious question mark on the electoral process and raises concerns about the forthcoming 2019 Nigeria general elections.
Also the Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF) Gender and Election Watch (GEW) is concerned about the overall conduct of the Osun Rerun election held on Thursday, September 27 2018. The rerun election featured overwhelming security personnel, hoodlums and thugs which affected the peaceful participation of voters and in particular women and other key stakeholders in the electoral process and therefore states as follows:
- NWTF GEW calls for a thorough investigation of all acts of violence and intimidation that transpired during the Osun rerun on 27 September 2018 to restore the confidence of the electorate in the electoral process and as a step towards gaining citizen’s confidence in Nigeria’s democratic process.
2. NWTF GEW finds the intimidation of women voters, observers, poll officials etc. during the Osun rerun election as worrisome and unacceptable and therefore calls on security agents to uphold their professional ethics, avoid partisanship, and protect lives and property of all during elections.
3. And as Nigeria moves towards the 2019 General Elections, urges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to redouble its efforts at protecting the integrity of the electoral process by upholding its regulations and relevant laws.