Interim Statement by Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER) on the observation of 2013 Anambra State Governorship Election
Anambra state governorship election was greeted with much anticipation and hope because both INEC and citizens see it as a litmus test for 2015 general elections. While we must commend the people of Anambra for having conducted themselves in a peaceful manner so far, reports from our observers deployed across the state shows critical areas the election has fallen short of people’s expectations. Some of the irregularities observed in some local governments include ballot snatching, massive thump printing, lateness of materials to polling units, absence of INEC officials and materials at some polling units, inadequate logistic provision for security officers deployed from other states, hostile polling officers to observers, complicity of the security agents in electoral fraud, display of campaign posters and a host of other irregularities were observed in some (sensitive) local governments in the state.
CODER observed election materials did not arrive on time in many polling units specifically in Idemili North, South and Ihiala local government. In Nnokwa Ward, Idemili South LGA, names starting with O-Z were missing from voters register. As at 1pm, no INEC officials or materials were seen in Nkpor 4, Idemili North LGA. As a result of late arrivals of voting materials, accreditation could not start on time in Idemili South, Idemili North and Ogbaru LGAs. Although accreditation and voting periods were extended in some of these polling units, INEC needs to do more to enhance people’s confidence in the polls.
Furthermore, CODER observers report that many polling officers in Awka south were hostile and seem not to possess the knowledge of the role of observers in an election. Information that would help observers fill their checklists were denied them and security officials were used to intimidate and harass duly accredited observers. We therefore seize this opportunity to call on INEC to provide adequate training for its polling officers on the complimentary role observers plays in an election before deploying them to the field.
From the foregoing, to increase the credibility of the polls in this election in fairness to all candidates, it is important that INEC conducts a rerun election in four local governments where massive irregularities and electoral fraud were recorded as against the three wards in Idemili North comprising only 65 polling units. The rationale for this call is to address the palpable notion that there was a deliberate attempt to subvert people’s choice and ensure a particular candidate whose supporters and strong base are in these LGAs does not win in these areas. The second reason is that with the combined voting population of these LGAs at over 300,000, it becomes imperative for INEC to show the election itself as an unbiased umpire by adhering to the wishes of the people to have rerun in these three LGAs.
Some of the specific electoral malpractices and fraud observed in these local governments are:
- Most fraud committed in the election happened in Idemili North and South local government which happens to be the support base of one of the candidates. There appears to be a deliberate attempt to subvert people’s mandate in these areas
- Some wards did not see any INEC officials nor voting materials two hours after voting ought to have commenced
- At Ogidi Ward 2, polling unit 007/008, Idemili North, people refused to vote due to absence of result booklet. At PU 007, one Obiora Okonkwo came in company of policemen with vehicle number PF 2317 SPY. He asked one Bassey Effiong (Force No. 375774) to force people to vote but they were resisted
- It was alleged that APGA and PDP were offering 10,000 naira to each polling officers and non credible observers to allow them operate freely in Nteje ward, PU 004, Ama Okpo and Orikabi
- No election materials and no result sheets at Nbakwu
- Election materials diverted at Ethel Obiakor Estate, Awka South
- Insufficient polling officers noticed in Nnewi LGA, Assistant Polling officers were introduced to fill the shortfall without prior training.
- No result booklet brought to Ogidi ward 2, polling units 007/008, Idemili North LGA.
- Police made vulnerable to electoral fraud due to lack of logistics for their accommodation and feeding
We therefore join our voices with other Nigerians to call on INEC not to declare any results relating to the election until a rerun election is conducted in the local governments where many citizens were disenfranchised from exercising their constitutional rights rather than the few polling units it plans to repeat the exercise. CODER also appeals to INEC and security agencies not to only document but put to use lessons gleaned from this election to improve the conduct of future ones.
Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER)