Off-cycle polls: TMG releases preliminary report, commends INEC, security operatives
The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has released preliminary report of the ongoing off-cycle polls in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states with a thumb up for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) security personnel and the people of the three states.
A statement signed by Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani however noted that pockets of violence were reported in few of the polling units across the states adding that in one of such instances, political thugs were reportedly killed by the military in Ayingba and Idah towns in Ida LGA of Kogi State.
“TMG observers reported pockets of violence in few of the polling units observed across the states. Political thugs were reportedly killed by the military in Ayingba and Idah town in Ida LGA of Kogi State,” the report indicated.
TMG also observed that with the exception of Bayelsa State, the turn out of voters in the two other off-cycle states was impressive.
“There was higher voter turnout in Kogi and Imo states respectively. Hundreds of voters were seeing on the queue in Ajaokuta, Adavi, Bassa, Yagba West LGAs.
“However, observers reported low turnout in Bayelsa state due to poor weather condition, difficult terrain and logistics issues as well as voter apathy in a number of polling units,” the report indicated.
The report also indicated that the election witnessed a slow start as most polling units were opened between 8:30 and 9:00am
“Observers across the three states of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi reported a slow start to the opening of polls in the polling units observed. Averagely, most of the polling units observed opened between 8:30 and 9:00am.
“TMG observer reported that INEC Officials arrived Amaimo ward- Umukpe Umuri, polling unit 005 at exactly 9:30am,” the report noted.
According to TMG, the election has witnessed high turn out of voters in many polling units across the three states.
“TMG observers reported high turnout of voters in PUs 001, 002, 003, 005, Ganaja Junction of Ajaokuta LGA.
“Observers reported presence of major political party agents in most of the polling units observed across the three states. These party agents were mostly representatives of APC, PDP, Labour Party and SDP,” TMG noted.
The report also said accreditation and Voting have commenced without hitches across the three states based on feed back from observers.
“Accreditation and voting commenced without hitches across the three states. Based on the feedback from the TMG observers, accreditation and voting simultaneously commenced around 9.00am in most of the PU observed.
“For example, PUs 006, 007 of Odo-Ere, Oke –Ere/Akata Ward of Yagba West LGA of Kogi State as well as PU 021, Ward 003 Epie in Bayelsa State as well as PU 006, Ward 008 Owudugbo in Ogbia, Bayelsa State respectively all opened around 9am.
“TMG observers reported arrival of materials and INEC officials to be between 8:00am – 8:30am in most polling units observed. These include Ward 17, Unit 004, Betto Open Space, Kolokuma 1, Bayelsa State and Ward Polling Unit 004, Community Secondary School, Lokogoma Village, Kogi State as well as Polling Unit 004, Oweri Municipal, Imo State respectively.
“The Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) allows for the identification and accreditation of voters through finger prints and facial recognition. As such voters are expected to be processed and verified by BVAS at various polling units. TMG observers reported adequate deployment and functionality of BVAS across polling units in the three states of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi respectively.
“These were reported in PU 022, Ward 02, Owerri, PU 007, Ward 10 Tapere Egede Square, Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa and PU 002, Ward 01 Bassa LGA of Kogi State respectively.
“TMG observers reported professional conduct of the security personnel at various polling units across the three states. Security personnel reportedly conducted themselves in a very civil and professional manner.
“The security personnel comprised of members of Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), EFCC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as well as Nigerian Immigration Service and Nigeria Correctional Service all deployed at the polling units. Also observed were military personnel who mount adjoining streets to polling units and boundaries.
“The Electoral Act 2022 provided that INEC should provide assistive materials that will aid voting of PWDs across polling units in Nigeria.
“TMG observers reported low turnout of PWDs. However, observers also reported availability of assistive materials such as magnifying lens for the visually impaired but most of the polling units lack ramp which should have allowed ease of movement of the physically challenged.
PWDs and the elderly were given voting preferences at the polling units observed by TMG.
“While sections 121 and 127 of the Electoral Act 2022 prohibit vote trading, TMG observers reported that several means were devised to induce voters by desperate politicians who were seen doling out cash gifts ranging from N5,000 to N30,000, food items and clothing materials (wrappers) in some of the polling units observed.