Violence marred smooth conduct of March 18 elections – CDD

“10.8 percent of observed polling units recorded violence and or fighting, this was most pronounced in the northwest (19.9 percent) and south-south (11.6 percent) geopolitical zones with Bayelsa and Zamfara the two states with the most incidents recorded by our observers.”

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The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) says that violence undermined the improved conduct of the governorship and houses of assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Prof. Adele Jinadu, Chair of the Election Analysis Centre (EAC) said this while presenting the report for the centre’s post-election findings in Abuja .

Jinadu said that the combination of violence, vote buying, online and offline intimidation of voters, disinformation and decreased citizens trust in INEC challenged the elections .

He said that the pro-democracy think tank findings came from the data of its 1,200 observers deployed to keep a close watch on the electoral process.

“Diminished trust in INEC as an institution will shape wider perceptions when it comes to the acceptance of the results returned, particularly in races where a narrow margin of victory is recorded or where presidential results are not replicated at the sub-national level.

“CDD in the post-election analysis also put the spotlight on the mindboggling violence, which affected the elections;as data showed violence occurred in 10.8 percent of polling units observed.

“It further pointed out that voter suppression, voter intimidation and the destruction or theft of election materials predominantly by political party agents and politically aligned thugs was recorded across all six geopolitical zones.

“10.8 percent of observed polling units recorded violence and or fighting, this was most pronounced in the northwest (19.9 percent) and south-south (11.6 percent) geopolitical zones with Bayelsa and Zamfara the two states with the most incidents recorded by our observers.”

Dr Joe Abah, Member, CDD’s Election Analysis Centre (EAC) said that CDD similarly drew attention to the threat or actual unleashing of violence, which manifested in the use of online and offline tactics to scare off or drive away voters from the polls.

He said that political actors deployed violence, not only offline but also online through the use of identity to drive misinformation and disinformation on social media.

He said that these disruptive activities caused a multiplier effect, which further led to the reduction of voters’ appetite to cast their ballots.

“Even though some efforts were made, where possible, to hold polls the following day for example, there were also attacks directed at, or threats made toward, ad-hoc INEC staff with one shot in Cross River and more than 10 kidnapped after voting in Imo state.

” Journalists reporting on the election in Lagos, Rivers and Ogun, domestic election observers and other party agents were not left out,”.

Abah said that the implications of the anomalies witnessed during the polls for Nigeria’s democracy and development, a wave of post-election litigations would probably come.

“This has the added effect of seeing courts have a role in determining “elected” officials, further undermining voters’ sense that their vote is valued and has an impact on the outcome of an election process.”

CDD’s Director, Idayat Hassan, said that there was need for Nigerians to become more resistant to build accountability in the electoral system.

Hassan expressed concern over the recurring electoral malpractices in Nigeria’s elections and called deliberate actions to stop them .

She also highlighted incidences of violence against women at polling units in Lagos, Kano, Bauchi for simply just expressing their choice or simply associating with a candidate.

She said that all these needed to be curbed to make democracy work for all.