By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
An election monitoring group, Kimpact Development Initiative, KDI, has condemned cases of election violence that bedevilled Lagos and other Southern States, during the March 18 Governorship and House of Assembly elections.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Saturday evening, the Executive Director of KDI, Bukola Idowu, said halfway through the elections, KDI ‘s monitoring team reported varying degrees of electoral violence in Lagos, Bayelsa and Enugu.
Recall that the KDI which deployed 1,126 observers for the governorship elections nationwide, listed Lagos as one of the hotspot states for election violence, thereby calling on security agencies to ensure a safe election environment.
Idowu expressed concerns over the sense of impunity most political party agents used to buy votes at polling units nationwide, which he said, often jeopardised the secrecy of the ballot.
“Election Security As of 15:00 hours today, the KDI Election Data room has confirmed 67 cases of violence, with 31.3% of these coming from Lagos – largely reports of intimidation and Harassment, ballot box snatching and physical attack. Cumulatively, southern Nigeria experienced 64.2% of these violent cases. This still points attention to the fact that more need to be done in the south to mitigate violence.
“KDI Election Data Room (EDR) recorded ballot box snatching in PUs – a few of which are PU Kmaa Gabas 15 in Kiyawa Ward in Jigawa, PU 4, Amodu Ward in Enugu State and Ward 3 in Bayelsa. There were reports of voting being disrupted in most PUs observed. 12% of the 123 victims recorded are women that were intimidated and harassed, ” said the executive director.
He said the KDI election data room also reported low turnout in a large number of polling units observed – largely in Lagos and other parts of the country, while northern states like Kano recorded large turnouts.
He, therefore, called on all election stakeholders to ensure a peaceful post-voting atmosphere, urging them to seek redress in court where they have concerns.
Earlier, a board member of the KDI, Ms Ene Edeh, noted there was an improvement in the arrival of ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission to polling units, as compared to the presidential election of February 25.
Ms Edeh commended Nigerians for turning out to exercise their franchise, and commitment to democracy.
She, however, said the KDI EDR confirmed a few cases of BVAS malfunctioning in the polling units they observed. One of which she said, was an incomplete result from polling unit 029, Ward 7 of Port Harcourt local government area in Rivers State, seen on the INEC Result Viewing Portal, IReV.
She, therefore, called on INEC to take advantage of the governorship and house of assembly elections to redeem its trust deficit that emanated from the presidential elections. “INEC must ensure its system firewalls and infrastructures can beat any cyber-attacks because the commission must not miss the opportunity that today’s election portends,” she added.