Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we welcome you on behalf of the Jos Civil society roundtable on the April Elections to this press conference to report our observations on last Saturday’s National Assembly elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the 9th Day of April 2011 organized elections into the Federal House of Representatives in Six (6) Federal Constituencies of Plateau State namely Barkin Ladi/Riyom, Jos South/Jos East, Mangu/Bokkos, Wase, Langtang North/Langtang South, Shendam/Mikang/Qua’an Pan federal constituencies. Three senatorial districts and two federal constituencies were affected by INEC’s postponement of elections in some senatorial district and constituencies nationwide. The constituencies affected by the postponed in Plateau state includes;
Jos North/Bassa, Pankshin/Kanam/Kanke federal constituencies and Plateau North, Plateau Central and Plateau South Senatorial districts.
Jos Civil Society Roundtable on 2011 Elections
The CSO Roundtable is a flexible collaborative platform of civil society organization working to strengthen democracy, good governance and political stability. The roundtable is a platform for information and experience sharing for CSOs working on elections in Plateau State. The roundtable mobilized and observed the National Assembly elections in some parts of Plateau state.
We commend INEC for the demonstration of a strong will and commitment to conduct credible elections in Plateau state. This commitment was demonstrated by the timely distribution of materials to the LGAs twenty four hours to the elections, the conduct and transparency of its electoral officials. We commend the National Youth Service Corp members who demonstrated an encouraging level of patriotism, neutrality and honesty in the conduct of the elections.
The Jos CSO Roundtable condemns in unequivocal terms the bomb blast that rocked the office of Independent National Electoral Commission in Niger state and some polling units in Borno state. We strongly condemn the desperate and wicked attempt to disrupt the conduct of peaceful elections across the country.
No doubt the National Assembly election in Plateau state was peaceful and violence free, which is a demonstration of maturity and patriotism on the part of Nigerians to eschew violence as a tool for political bargain.
Findings & Observations
Late arrival of election officials and materials: We observed that in most polling units electoral officials and electoral materials arrived late at the polling unit. In many polling stations, accreditation did not start by 8:00am. However, registered voters waited patiently for the arrival of the electoral officials.
Accreditation of Voters: Late commencement of accreditation of voters was witnessed across some of the polling units in the state. The late commencement of the accreditation exercise resulted in late commencement of voting in various polling stations. We observed that some polling units proceeded with voting while accreditation of voters was still ongoing. This contravenes the guidelines of the accreditation process. Due to lack of understanding of the features of the modified open ballot system some voters shortly after the accreditation left the polling unit and never returned.
Missing names in INEC Register: There were some reported cases of missing names in the voters register. Some voters alleged that before the cancellation and postponement of the April 2nd elections their names were found on the voters register but on the voter register used for April 9th election their names were not found on the list.
Voter turn-out: We observe that while there was large presence of people at the polling unit, not all of them where registered voters. In most polling stations the number of accredited voters was below the number of registered voters.
Conduct of Security agencies
On the average, there were three security personnel found in so many polling units. The policemen and other security personnel like Nigerian Civil Defence Corp and Nigerian Immigration Service were very cordial and civil. We commend the level of civility exhibited by the security agencies. Though, there were reports of some members of the State Task Force (STF) harassing people involved in elections related activities despite showing an identity card that was duly accredited by INEC.
Secrecy of voting: We observe that cubicles were not provided in various polling booths. This situation does not guarantee the secrecy of the voting. In some polling units, party agents were seen thumb-printing for voters who could not identify party logos on the ballot paper.
Under aged voting: Under-aged voting was recorded in some polling units. In some cases, the attempt by the presiding officer to restrain the under-aged voters from voting was rejected by the community members who intimidated the electoral officials.
Vote buying and inducement: In some polling units, politicians were seen at polling units inducing voter with food items.
Conclusions: While commending INEC under the leadership of Prof. Attahiru Jega for restoring confidence in Nigeria’s electoral process, we also extol the leadership virtues of President Goodluck Jonathan for not interfering with the process as has been the case with other past leaders. We enjoin all Nigerians to be steadfast and untiring in their efforts and zeal to work towards the enthronement of a credible, free and fair electoral process in the country. Nigeria is ours to make or mar!
SamsonItodo Patience Dassah Chris Kwaja
08032894709 08036807123 08036054165
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For: Jos Civil Society Roundtable on Elections