Kogi, Bayelsa polls: YIAGA tasks INEC on flooded areas to avoid disenfranchisement

YIAGA Africa on Tuesday urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to design a plan for flooded areas to avoid their being disenfranchised ahead of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

The Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Mr Samson Itodo made this known in the organisation’s third Kogi and Bayelsa pre-election reports in Abuja.

Itodo said YIAGA Africa sent out “Watching The Vote (WTV)’’ observers to Kogi and Bayelsa to monitor the pre-election environment and to look at key issues facing the states, and INEC among others.

He said that some things observed were indicators of violence, violation of electoral codes, thuggery, selling and buying of voter cards, flooded areas usage of weapons and so on.

“This reporting phase also captures the plight of voters in some communities flooded and the issue of where they vote on Election Day including the issue of the threat of the likelihood for politicians to weaponise the elections.

“Some possible polling units affected are located in Kolokuma and Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor, Sagbama, and Yenagoa LGAs .

“In Kogi, polling units affected are located in communities within Ibaji, Kogi, Koton Karfe, Lokoja, Ofu, Ajaokuta, Omala and Idah LGAs, Ibaji appears to be the most severely affected LGA.

“Communities in Onyedega, Unale, Ojila, Odeke, Ejule, Ayah, Analo and Akpanyo ward are specifically affected,’’ he said

Itodo said that INEC needed to properly communicate its plans to ensure that voters in the polling units affected by flood were able to vote.

He said that this should include information on where and how these voters in the affected polling units would vote.

He maintained that the increase in the purchase of voter cards and voter details called for an immediate action from INEC to develop an oversight mechanism on Election Day to prevent manipulation of the voter accreditation process.

The executive director added that INEC should in collaboration with the police commence arrest of politicians going about requesting for PVCs and voter details.

Itodo said that there was also the need for INEC to intensify its voter education as the election was getting closer.

This, he said was especially with respect to voting procedure and messages on INECs plan to ensure credible election to build citizens’ confidence in the process.

He said that due to YIAGA Africa’s observations, INEC needed to ensure proper coordination with the security agencies to guarantee the security of polling officials and ad- hoc staff, especially corps members.

Itodo said that to ensure a peaceful election, there was an ardent need for better inter-agency collaboration and cooperation between both the security agencies toward the elections, especially in hot spots already identified.

The executive director advised that security agencies working on the elections should ensure that all personnel deployed were properly trained.

He encouraged political parties and candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns rather than the shameful act of purchasing PVCs and voter’s details.

According to him, parties should desist and refrain from recruiting thugs, militants, cultists, and criminals, among others to deploy violence to allow for peaceful election.

He appealed to citizens to guard their PVCs and voter details because the PVC was the only identity card that guaranteed their right to vote on Election Day.

Itodo also urged citizens to work with security agencies by reporting incidents of threats of violence or perpetrators of violence. (NAN)