1) Preamble: The Delta State governorship re-run election held on Thursday, January 6, 2011. On Monday, January 3, 2011, three days before the polls the Election Project of the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) issued its special pre-election report entitled: “DELTA RE-RUN ELECTION; GLOOM CLOAKS THE BIG HEART”. In this special post-election edition, CEHRD focuses on election preparations, observation, violence, fraud around the process, turnout, results etc. On Thursday, January 6, 2011 re-run election in Delta State was held.
CEHRD deployed monitors into every nook and cranny of the state. CEHRD had monitors in the 25 local government areas of the state, although we had a fair representation, yet did not have monitors in the 3, 625 polling units in Delta State. Beyond we had supervisors who were roving around and linking up with the various non-partisan monitors deployed in remote areas. A million thanks to the Nigerian office of the Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) who funded CEHRD to do the monitoring of the Delta re-run election.
CEHRD is an independent, non-partisan, non-political, non-religious, non-profit making organization, incorporated under the relevant laws in Nigeria. This report is the outcome of our monitoring of the re-run governorship election. Beyond our monitors, reports, we corroborated the various incident reports sent to us with those of other NGOs observers, security officials, politicians, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), etc. CEHRD takes responsibility for this report. This report would have been released the same day after the election was concluded but for the time the team took to meticulously verify reported incidents. CEHRD is not interested in who wins the re-run election, but insists on the correct things to be done. This is our commitment and passion towards building democracy and its values in Nigeria and beyond.
2) Trust Violated
Dr. Ogbudu Gabriel Ada, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Delta State while addressing a press conference at INEC headquarters in Asaba on Saturday, January 1, 2011 declared that there was no going back on Delta State re-run election. He claimed, “We have an update register that would help us conduct a free and fair election”. He noted that the issue of late arrival of materials and personnel to the polling stations had been adequately taken care of. Again the Delta REC was quoted to have declared that accreditation of prospective voters will start from 9:00am to 12.00pm, that after that, voting would start. For the sake of this report, CEHRD just wants to reinforce the above statement. It was quoted in the last edition.
CEHRD monitors reported about late commencement of accreditation. By 11.00am accreditation and voting materials were seeing in heaps at the Eseriphe Primary School in the Otor-Iwhreko community in the Ughelli North Local Government Area where INEC had converted into its temporary election centre. This was so, because on the eve of the re-run election, the INEC office in the Iwhreko community in the area was razed down by unknown persons. Obviously, at unit 8 on Christ Street in the Eku community in the Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, accreditation was conducted by 1:21pm. Such complaints of delay in accreditation not to mention that of voting were received across the state.
Apart from massive accreditation delays, there were huge problems of poor logistics arrangement on the part of INEC. In Uvwie Local Government Area, the bus that distributed the election materials to the wards was provided by the council which is run by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Also, at Ughelli North there were inadequate cars to convey the materials to their respective destinations; rickety commercial buses were arranged on an ad-hoc basis. Though, some members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which INEC used as ad-hoc staff demonstrated some encouraging level of patriotic, neutrality and honesty, still some were not; which raised the suspicion that they must have been bribed by desperate politicians. They were posted to remote areas with literally no security (two or three unarmed policemen at units) at the mercy of rampaging armed thugs.
During the election there was a rhetoric ban on movement of people except for those on essential election duty; however, there were a lot of young people and others driving cars, motor bikes crazily around. Technically speaking, due process was not followed on accreditation in so many places. In some places, the frightened youth corp members who were drafted from neighboring states, as stated above, were at the mercy of the voters who had turned out in large numbers. They were not accredited, but they were just allowed to vote. This was the scenario in ward 9, unit 4 and 3, Ward 8, unit 6 and 7. Most of the helpless corps members were manipulated and threatened during this process by madcap politicians.
3) One Man, Many Votes
In the case of Delta State re-run election, the mantra “ONE MAN, ONE VOTE” was set aside; it was “ONE MAN, MANY VOTES”. Results declared by INEC were not what we saw in the field. The voters register was not followed. The result declared is questionable. There were confirmed reports of Electoral Officers (EO) at the various local government areas below, giving out ballot papers, but retained some. This was reported in the following local government areas; Sapele, Warri North, Warri South-West, Aniocha, Ika South, Patani, Bomadi and Udu. CEHRD monitors in these areas reported as follows.
In Ujevwu community along Delta Clinic Road in the Udu Local Government Area, home of Prof. Amos Utouma, the ex-deputy governor to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, and his ruling mate was crowded by, over 200 thugs and security officials especially mobile policemen at about 8. 00am. CEHRD could not unravel what they were doing. But, CEHRD observed that there was no voting throughout Ujevwu and its neighboring wards. Yet, results were announced. In Bowen and Persu wards in the Warri SouthLocal Government Area all the materials were taken by PDP thugs who were armed with AK47s, barretta pistols and daggers. They hijacked the materials and took them to Alders Town Primary School. Two agents of Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) who protested verbally were beaten and injured with daggers. This is an Itsekiri community. Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, deposed governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hails from the ethnic Itsekiri group. At Chief Ajudua’s estate in Ibuso community in the Oshmili North Local Government Area, of Delta State, where agents of the PDP were thump printing while the corps members were doing accreditation exercise. Illah wards, units 2, 3 and 5 in the same Oshimili North Local Government Area, PDP agents were seen offering one thousand naira (N1, 000) about ($7) to voters. Some residents confronted them, and this resulted into commotion.
Violence erupted at Agaga layout Area of Uvwie Local Government Area over the way and manner election materials were shared at about 10.45am. The DPP agents accused PDP of diverting the materials. The DPP supporters threw stones at the bus carrying election materials to other units. Warri/Effurun Road by JFM spot was barricaded by youths armed with planks. They were identified as DPP supporters. Three boys (one 16 and other two 17) were identified. This is a recruitment of juveniles into electoral violence. This should be discouraged for the heath of the society. At about 11.14am, a CEHRD roving supervisor received a call on his mobile phone about the inadequate security arrangement and hijacking of ballot boxes by PDP thugs. CEHRD confirmed that at Olodi Primary School in the Okumagba ward 11, unit 3 only six police officers without guns were drafted to cover the 16 units that make up the Okumagba area in the Warri South Local Government Area.
At ward 6, Arhagha community hall in Arhagba-Okpe Local Government Area, a CEHRD team supervising its monitor ran into about 15 thugs led by a local Chief with beads all over his neck, some bare-bodied and bare-footed, shooting closer to the hall where election was taking place. Few minutes after a group of mobilized youths numbering about thirty had trooped there to vote. They were identified as DPP supporters put up counter-offensive, but with planks, broken bottles. The armed PDP thugs ran away and normalcy was restored. The police officer drafted there initially ran away when the PDP thugs started shooting. A visibly frightened police officer there, Mr. Osademe Monday who witnessed the drama too, confirmed to CEHRD. CEHRD was reliably informed that accreditation went on peacefully and voting commenced, however, when the PDP poll agents there saw that DPP was wining they started making calls on their phones, and brought in the thugs to cause violence. Mr. Ilori Oluwashegun Abiodun, an NYSC INEC ad-hoc staff at unit 4 at Arhagba community hall spoke to CEHRD.
At around 1.25pm, Community Road unit 14, 15, 16 and 17 in Sapele in the Sapele Local Government Area heavily armed PDP thugs brandishing AK47 riffles and dynamites stormed the area shortly after accreditation and chased away all the DPP agents. The agents of Chief Augustine Ovie Omo-Agege of the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN) were also chased away. Mr. Obus Omoyere, a 28-year-old prospective voter was wounded with broken bottles. He was bleeding profusely on his left hand when CEHRD supervisor visited the area. CEHRD monitors there narrowly escaped being hurt. The NYSC ad-hoc staff scampered for dear lives too.
In unit 9, under ward 9 in Okusajere, unit 15 (Egbewor compound) in Amukpe, Old Road, the PDP armed thugs did the same thing. Aggrieved villagers who refused to vote lamented to CEHRD. “We want peace, if election will bring problems please tell them we don’t want election again” a 76-year-old Madam Mary Onomakpo told CEHRD in her native Urohobo dialect. Above is the translated version.
In Okoruvie Primary School along Reclamation Road, Sapele Hon. P.D.O. Akpeki, a new commissioner in the government of the PDP was said to have witnessed voting there, but when he saw that DPP was winning, he made some phone calls and PDP armed thugs appeared suddenly and seized the area. They took away all the voting materials and never returned. CEHRD roving supervisory team arrived there while the shooting by PDP thugs was on. They saw a team of the State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria’s secret police were seen in their exotic vehicles travelling on the Sapele area with their long guns. On the main Effurun-Warri-Sapele Road in Okpabodo, over 100 bare-footed supporters of the DPP with branches of green leaves marched on the road, chanting pro-Ogboru,-anti-PDP war songs. See them in picture below.
In Ward 2, unit 2 in the Uvwie Local Government Area, forty one (41) were accredited. The forty one (41) voted. Election was peaceful, free and fair, but as the poll ended, the returning officer and others while trying to take the results to the local government collation centre at Uvwie local government council secretariat along Heritage Close, off Agric Road, Effurun, Mrs. Ovo Gardener, the ex-aide to the Chief James Ibori’s government and ex-commissioner for Education under the Uduaghan’s government and current House of Representatives aspirant for Uvwie, Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas intercepted them in her dark coloured Toyota Corolla with number -AH184-GWK with in company of a special police force popularly called Redcap Police. They were trained in Israel on counter-insurgency, and counter-terrorism.
Jubilant DPP supporters shown in the picture, at the background are police officers trying to hijack election materials with Mrs. Gardener and her PDP agent. A monitor of CEHRD was denied access to the Uvwie council collation centre.
At Ukoribi ward 1, Mr. Kelly Utuedo, a popular PDP youth leader in Uvwie Local Government Area commandeered all the election materials to his Ugbowhose village and thumb printed on them. Again, at a unit on Reclamation Road in Sapele, Chief Paulinus Akpeai, the current Commissioner for Communications and Orientation stormed the area and snatched election materials, around the same area in Sapele; Dofinone Ede, a DPP Senate aspirant was attacked and beaten up. He was injured. A bunch of PDP thugs in a car owned by Chief Godwin Atose, the current chairman Sapele Local Government Area stormed Okoruvie Primary School along Reclamation Road in Sapele to cart away ballot boxes but DPP supporters caught them, and returned the boxes to the ward. Some angry DPP supporters beat them up. But Atose was not in the car.
At ward 7 at Ethiope East Local Government Area, Chief Anthony Obro, the Chairman of the council was allegedly trying to cart away voting materials, but was stopped by DPP supporters, who beat him up and returned the materials to the ward. In Mosogar community, ward 4 in the Ethiope West, PDP thugs beat up DPP agents and disappeared with ballot papers. At ward 7, unit 7, 11 and 12 respectively at Ovwian in the Udu Local Government Area of Delta State. Voting was going on at unit 7 when PDP thugs stormed the area, and snatched the materials at gunpoint.
At Alegbo Primary School in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, a CEHRD monitor was attacked. A bare-footed PDP thug leader led over 100 thugs most of whom were bare-footed and broad-chested at the entrance of the above-mentioned primary school they attacked him. The thug leader before snatching a note book from the monitor thundered in Pidgin English, “Wetin you been dey write since morning. Na una wey dey write bad bad thing against us”. A mobile policeman there at the voting centre tried to ask the thugs to go back, angered the leader who fired rhetorically at the police officer, “If you shake we go tumble this place”. Sadly, they tore our monitor’s note into pieces and left for another centre to flare violence which is their stock in trade.
4) Delta Re-Duplicity; Implications for April Poll
The opposition Democratic People’s Party (DPP) in the re-run election was more mobilized than the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who invested more in recruiting election thugs and militias to steal election materials. The election was characterized by violence, fraud and criminality unleashed by the PDP mainly in active collaboration with INEC officials. Commenting on the re-run election, Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), while addressing the media said that the lessons learnt from the re-run poll would form the basis of preparations for the April 2011 round of general elections. CEHRD’s investigation reveals that if a free and fair election were allowed to hold, Chief Ogboru of the DPP would have defeated Dr. Uduaghan of the PDP. The figure released by INEC which made PDP to win is fraudulent.
Any area PDP felt they did not have strong support they rigged. Even in Uduaghan’s supposed stronghold, Ogboru won as we observed in the field, with huge margin e.g. the real result from Ojojo/Okere Warri ward 8, unit 001 in the Warri South Local Government Area has it that DPP got 57, while PDP got only 4. Also, at Okumagba layout ward 12, unit 7, the real result has it that DPP got 494, while PDP 3. INEC announced fake results which they know. When it comes to local government collation centres DPP agents were intimidated out, so their presence there was very scanty at some places. It was at the various collation centers that the figures were increased. Some of the ad-hoc staff, Electoral Officers (E.Os) never released all the materials; they retained some for corrupt motives. EOs appeared and re-appeared at every point. They should be investigated.
This is an indictment on INEC. There were no lessons learned from their previous mistakes. There was poor security arrangement. SSS, police, soldiers, traffic warders, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were drafted in from neighbouring states, in spite of that there were inadequacies; the security officials were concentrated in the Delta cities, and at some locations.
The politicians were just test running their rigging machinery and dexterity under a “new” INEC leadership. Subsequent election will be disastrous because even the opposition parties now know that even though they rigged themselves into power; will be accepted by INEC. For example, the level of fraud in 1999 was lower compared with 2003 and 2007 elections. Each passing day add new rigging strategy to the electoral system by monstrous politicians. The figures quoted were outrageous compared to the actual voting in Delta State in each local government areas.
i) To INEC
* Cancel the results of that fraudulent re-run election and conduct a new one, because we can not compromise our credibility. We must lay a proper foundation
* Conduct a free re-run election in Delta State and make the process open, transparent and non-partisan
* While conducting the election, the fresh Delta State re-run election, CSO actors both local and international should be involved fully.
* INEC should probe its staff who participated in the Thursday, January 6, 2011 re-run elections in Delta State and if found guilty should be made to face the law as well as the criminal politicians promoting violence and juvenile inducement into electoral crimes etc.
ii) To Foreign governments/international community
* The international community should not only support the electoral process and stay aloof, it should be interested in democratic development in Nigeria, INEC needs its technical assistance in conducting a free and fair election in Nigeria.
* Election rigging and its associated violence are crimes against humanity. Like their “comrades” in Kenya who ignited the terrible electoral violence which swallowed Kenya in 2007are answering questions at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Nigerian politicians either in Delta State or elsewhere should not be an exception.
For any comment, question and suggestion please contact the election team of the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), No. 6 Obo Nwanke Street, Post Office Building, Ogale-Nchia, Eleme, Rivers State, Nigeria, West Africa. Telephone; 0803-3367823 (personal), 08191513711 (office phone), 082557893, 082557885 and 082557083 (office landlines) Emails; [email protected] (official) and [email protected] (personal) Website; www.cehrd.org.