Supplementary poll: Police failed to check violence, voter intimidation in Kano, Bauchi —EU

The European Union Election Observation Mission has said that it witnessed organized violence and intimidation of voters during Saturday’s rerun in parts of Kano, Bauchi and Benue States.

Specifically, the Mission said police and party leaders failed to prevent attacks on electoral officials by youth gangs armed with clubs and machetes in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Kano State which accounted for one-third of all registered voters for the supplementary governorship election.

The EU EOM in a statement on the supplementary poll on Monday, stated that its observers could not access many polling units in Kano due to security concerns.

It noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission also did not comment on the electoral disturbances, despite its overall responsibility for the election and security arrangements.

The report said, “The environment was intimidating and not conducive to voters’ free participation in the election. Party leadership locally and centrally did not appear to take any steps to rein in supporters and prevent evident violence, intimidation or other misconduct.

“Throughout the day, INEC did not comment on electoral disturbances, despite its overall responsibility for the election and security arrangements; EU observers witnessed organised intimidation of voters.”

It added, “ For example, groups of youths with clubs and machetes patrolled the streets, and people with party agent tags harassed voters. During collation in Kano, EU observers saw that several INEC polling staff had been attacked.

“Large groups of men with weapons were not contained by the police. Due to intimidating crowds and disturbances, EU observers in Kano could not access or continue observation in polling units in Dala and Nasarawa LGAs.”

The group pointed out that the electoral process in Kano was further compromised by the harassment and obstruction of citizen observers, and journalists from BBC Hausa, the Nigerian Television Authority and TVC, which it said compromised scrutiny of both polling and collation of results in the affected areas.

The EU EOM also highlighted isolated violent incidents which also affected voting and counting in Bauchi, adding that around 50 people with clubs disrupted counting in one polling unit.

It said, “In Benue, election materials were burnt, resulting in the cancellation of polling affecting 13,000 registered voters, and a collation officer carrying result sheets was shot in the leg.”

The observer group noted that party agents interfered more in the rerun election collation process than on the previous two election days, stating that some polling units in Kano were dominated by controlling party agents and supporters.

“Of the 40 polling units that EU teams could fully observe, agents were present in all and in five cases were seen interfering in the work of polling officials, in Benue, Plateau and Sokoto,” the report added.

The EU EOM said it would continue to observe the results and petitions’ processes and would remain in the country until early April, adding that its Chief Observer, Maria Arena, would return in June to present the mission’s final report, which will include recommendations for future electoral processes.

 

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