BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – A coalition of over 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), on the aegis of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has expressed serious reservations and concerns over the outcome of Thursday’s Osun State re-run election that held in just seven polling units.
The CSOs, whose organisations were duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to monitor the election, expressed worry that the election was heavily policed with police and other security personnel, including the Army that were overwhelmingly deployed across the seven polling units of the election in a manner that created heavy tension and apprehension among voters.
The Coalition also said that there were reports of political thugs and hoodlums being used to intimidate voters, with the security forces standing by and failing to act.
The Coalition of the CSOs stressed that the outcome of the election derogates from the recent gains made in the nation’s elections process and the confidence that was beginning to be built.
The coalition of the CSOs further said that the lapses in the Osun State re-run elections have succeeded in putting a serious question mark on the electoral process and therefore raises germane concerns about the forthcoming 2019 Nigeria general elections.
In a statement issued in Abuja by the convener of the CSOs Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo and the co-convener, Barrister Esther Uzoma and made available to Forefront News, the Coalition said that from observations, it was clear that the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the elections in the seven polling units where the rerun elections held, including violence, also repeated themselves in most of the election.
The statement further states; “From Situation Room’s observations, 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.”
“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.
“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.
“There were reports of agents with large sums of money apprehended around the polling units and alleged fake observers,” the Coalition emphasized.
The Situation Room however observed the rerun election conducted by the INEC witnessed early arrival of materials and INEC officials in most of the polling units where the rerun elections were conducted.
It however said that it was difficult to confirm in Orolu Local Government Area 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 and media persons who attempted to enter the LGA but were stopped during most of the morning hours until intervention by INEC later in the day.”