By Angela Atabo
Connected Development (CODE), an NGO has condemned the suppression and attacks on voters and oberservers in some states during Saturday’s Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
The Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal said this in the organisation’s report on the observation of the elections in Abuja .
Lawal said that CODE and its partners, Accountabilty Lab and DEAN Initiative were also disappointed over the electoral violence in some states .
He said that CODE deployed 20,000 observers and also deployed the Uzabe technology for election observation to provide citizens with the opportunity to partake in the process and to get reports from various polling units across the country.
“In spite of the high expectations of the elections, we have cause to be concerned about the conduct of elections in some polling stations.
“We condemn in strong terms the attack and suppression of voters in a number of polling units.
“For example, in Ebonyi , one of our accredited Uzabe field observer, Lucy Ogodo was brutally attacked for refusing to vote for a particular party.
“This is unacceptable and against the tenets of democracy which we strive so hard to maintain as a nation.
“The democratic contract of our country dictates that we as citizens have the exclusive right to determine who our leaders are and we must protect this right.”
According to him, this is why we are again calling on security agencies to act swiftly and ensure justice is served.”
Lawal said that the report showed that there were other pockets of violence that surfaced in numerous Polling Units across the country.
“In fact, the pregnant wife of our Lagos State Lead was attacked and is currently recuperating. We will not relent until justice is served,” he said.
Lawal said that in spite of all of these faults, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did well in logistics as there was early opening of polls in 79 per cent of polling units observed by CODE.
This he said was an improvement as opposed to the less than 30 per cent in the Feb. 25 general elections.
He also commended the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), adding that this indicated the commission’s commitment to embracing this new technology in the electioneering process.
Lawal also commended INEC on the uploads of results on the IReV, adding “we have noticed that as at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, some results from various polling units have already been uploaded.”
Mr Emmanuel Njoku , the Director, Democracy and Governance, CODE, said there was voter apathy during the elections probably because a lot of people were disappointed with the outcome of the Feb. 25 elections.
“We, however, commend INEC for learning from their short comings and improving on the governorship and assemblies elections, they did well in early commencement at least 80 per cent of Polling Units opened on time.”
Njoku said that high level of vote buying was experienced as against the Feb.25 elections and it could be due to the directive to use the old naira notes .
Founder of DEAN Initiative, Semiye Michael called for the improvement of Nigeria’s electoral process, adding the integrity of elections was based on the process .
Michael said that there was the need to abide by the provisions of the Electoral Act for free, fair and credible polls.
Mr Friday Odey, the Country Director, Accountabilty Lab said that forcing voters to elect a specific party was undemocratic.
Odeh called on INEC to live up to expectations, taking note of violent Polling Units and doing the needful to guarantee credible polls. (NAN)