By Angela Atabo
Yiaga Africa alleged that some politicians were engaged in vote buying as party agents distributed food, cash and alcoholic drinks to some voters in exchange for votes.
Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, a board member, Yiaga Africa said this during the organisation’s news conference on its Midday situation report on the Saturday’s Governorship and State Assembly elections in Abuja.
Nwagwu said that Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) deployed the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology to observe the governorship elections in Benue, Delta and Kano States.
He said that this involved the deployment of 900 stationary observers to represent a randomly selected sample of 300 polling units for each of the states, and 97 roving observers in the three states.
He added that Yiaga Africa deployed 517 stationary observers and 33 roving observers in the other 25 states to observe the governorship elections with roving observers in 609 Local Government Areas to capture critical incidents.
“Yiaga Africa received 15 confirmed reports of vote buying across 8 states and one in Sarkin Mudu Polling Unit (016) in Giade LGA of Bauchi, PDP agents were sighted bribing accredited voters with N1,000, a wrapper and a pack of spaghetti.
“The voters hand over their ballot papers to party agents in exchange for the bribe.
‘’A similar report of the distribution of wrappers, N2,000 and a pack of spaghetti to voters was received from PU 006 Rangan Ward, Warji LGA of Bauchi,” he said.
Nwagu said that party agents for the APC and PDP reportedly distributed food, cash and alcoholic drinks to some voters in exchange for votes in Apir market square 1, Makurdi in Benue.
“A case of bribery was reported in PU O6, Ward 05, Isoko North, Delta State, where INEC officials received cash gift from the APC party agent in the polling unit,” he said.
Nwagwu said that Yiaga Africa noted a marked improvement in the management of election logistics across the states as many polling units opened early, resulting in early commencement of accreditation and voting.
He said that, there were also reports of logistics hiccups received by Yiaga Africa in some polling units and compromise of secrecy of the ballots.
“This resulted in a protest at the INEC office in the LGA. Incidences of voter intimidation and harassment were also recorded in some polling units in Kano and Lagos state.
“These acts of voter suppression is an assault on constitutional right to vote; Yiaga Africa hopes INEC and security agencies will take prompt actions to address these issues to inspire public confidence in the credibility of the elections,” he said.
Nwagwu said that Yiaga Africa WTV Data Center received 54 verified critical incident reports, primarily concerning the intimidation and harassment of voters, disruption of voting and destruction of election materials.
He urged INEC to take urgent remedial actions in polling units where cases of infractions and non-compliance with the 2022 Electoral Act and INEC guidelines occurred.
He called on security agencies to respond promptly to reports of voter intimidation and attacks at the polling unit to accord citizens the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Nwagwu urged INEC to ensure strict compliance with the guidelines for the results collation; specifically, party agents and accredited media and election observers should be granted access to the collation centres.
He added that collation officers should verify the results on the hardcopy results sheets and results transmitted with the BVAS during results collation.(NAN)