A non-governmental organisation CLEEN Foundation which has as its mandate the drive to promote public safety, security and justice through empirical research, legislative advocacy, demonstration programmes and publications, in its post-election report on the just concluded governorship elelction in Osun State revealed that the state implemented several activities to ensure a peaceful conduct of the Electoral processes.
Presenting the post-election statement to journalists in Abuja, the acting executive director of the organisation, Ruth Olofin disclosed that the activities included conduct of Pre-Election Security Threat Assessment to identify risk factors ahead of the election, actors and actions that constitute threat to the election with mitigative strategies on identified security threats.
According to executive director, “the CLEEN Foundation coordinated a virtual session to discuss the framework for Election Security Management and Conduct of Credible Election in Osun state. The event brought together key actors including the INEC, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Academics, Observers and other stakeholders. CLEEN recruited, trained and deployed citizen observers to observe the conduct of security officials and general observations during the election”.
READ FULL TEXT OF THE REPORT
The Election Security Support Centre (ESSC) of CLEEN Foundation observed, tracked, monitored, documented, escalated and followed up on security-related developments across the Thirty (30) LGAs of Osun State where our Citizens Observers were deployed. The observation was done using the “CLEEN Mobile App” which allows our observers to report security and other related issues in the respective areas/locations. The primary data collected from the CLEEN Foundation citizens observers were triangulated and complemented with information from credible and reliable sources. The following issues are highlighted as part of our Post Election Statement on the 2022 Osun State Governorship Election.
3.0 Opening of Polls:
The election recorded early commencement of polls occasioned by the early arrival of INEC personnel and security officials at different polling units across the 30 local government areas in the state. This was confirmed by CLEEN Foundation citizen observers deployed in the state.
4.0 SECURITY-RELATED OBSERVATIONS
4.1 Early Arrival of Security Personnel:
The early arrival of security agents to the various polling units was observed by most CLEEN Foundation observers in the state. 82.1% of the polling units had security presence before 8:00am, 14.3% before 9:00am while 3.6% after 9:00am. Instances of early arrivals were observed in PU 003, ward 04, Baptist Primary. School III, Abaale, Ifedayo LGA and PU 011, Ward 09, Open space, Osun state polytechnic Gate Iree, Boripe LGA, security agents as well as INEC officials arrived after 8:00 am.
4.2 Adequacy of Security Personnel
The data from the CLEEN Foundation Election Security Support Centre indicates that 83.9% of the polling units had adequate security personnel across the 30 LGA in the state, 14.3% had somewhat adequacy.
4.3 Identification of Security Personnel
CLEEN Foundation observers noted that 92.9% of the security agents were wearing easily identifiable nametags while 7.1% were not wearing easily identifiable name tags.
4.4 Approachability of Security Agents
The information from our Election Security Support Centre of CLEEN Foundation indicates that most of the security personnel on election duty were very approachable in the discharge of duty.
4.5 Possession of Firearms at the Polling Units:
Reports received and analyzed by CLEEN Foundation indicates that almost all the security personnel on election duty at the polling units in Osun state had no firearm. Security personnel with firearms were observed to be either a distance from the polling units or patrolling the streets/roads in the state. However, in a couple of polling units, CLEEN Foundation observers noted that armed security personnel were seen. For instance, in PU 007, Ward 29/17/06/015, Adeniji, Ila LGA, armed security agents were at the polling unit and in PU 26, Ward 1, Mallamtope filling station, Saba Community, Olorunda Local Government Area, DSS officers were observed to be heavily armed with faces covered.
4.6 Impartiality of Security Personnel at the Polling Unit
At the end of CLEEN Foundation observation of the conduct of security personnel during the 2022 governorship election in Osun state, 60.7% of the security personnel were observed to be impartial in their conduct,
4.7 Orderliness in Polling Unit
There was orderliness in the majority of the polling units observed by CLEEN Foundation. The data from the ESSC shows that 87.5% of the polling units were orderly while 12.5% were somewhat orderly.
4.8 Feeling of Safety at the Polling unit:
CLEEN Foundation observers across the 30 Local Government Areas in the 2022 Governorship Election in Osun State reported that they felt safe and secure at the polling units. 89.3% felt safe and secure respectively while 10.7% felt somewhat safe and secure.
4.9 Use of Force:
CLEEN Foundation data indicates that security personnel on election duty did not use force in the majority of the polling units observed in the state. However, in a few polling units where incidents of use of force were recorded, CLEEN observers noted that the force was proportionate to restore orderliness during the process.
4.10 Overall Conduct of Security Personnel:
In general, CLEEN Foundation observed that most security personnel were reported to be of good conduct while a few were reported to be of fair/bad conduct.
5.0. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
5.1 Turn Out of Electorates:
CLEEN Foundation observed improved voter turn-out during the polls.
5.2 Functionality of BVAS: CLEEN Foundation observed the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the various polling Units across the 30 LGAs. However, in PU 028, Ward 05, Ife-Central, Open Space, Motion-Ground, OAU, Iremo/Ajebandele the BVAS had network issues as they couldn’t login into the portal to verify voters. Also, in OAU; PU 011, Ward 03, Ibokun Hall, Obokun local government area; PU 08, Ward 05, Open Space Government Mini Water Scheme, Ifelodun LGA and PU 18, Ward, 14, Fiwasaye Maternity- Centre, Olorunda LGA, BVAs malfunctioned and were replaced accordingly and in some instances led to the slow accreditation and voting because of its inability to identify fingerprints and facial recognition of voters.
5.3 Inclusivity/Priority Voting: Across the 30 LGAs, priority voting was given to the elderly, pregnant women and persons with disabilities during the process. In PU 02, Ward 09, Eruku, Isokan LGA, the aged were given special treatment to get them accredited first, followed by the heavily pregnant women, and nursing mothers. Also, in PU 014, Ward 05, Sports Center OAU, Ife-Central LGA Pregnant women and the elderly were attended to before other voters. Also observed was the improved participation of women and youth in the electoral process.
5.4 Vote Trading/Secrecy of the Ballot: Widespread vote-trading was observed by the CLEEN Foundations observers, for instance in PU 014, Ward 05, Sport centre Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife- Central LGA, a party loyalist was seen canvassing to pay #10,000 if voters are ready to vote for his party. Also in PU 009, Ward 11, Oke Aree, Boripe LGA, massive vote-trading was observed as voters show the party voted for and tallies were issued by party agents to the voter to claim the money. In PU 09, Ward 01, Idilapo ogodobo, Obokun LGA, voters were given money inside a bar house to vote for a political party. Also, promises of food items were made after they had voted. More so, in PU 14, Ward 05, Sports Centre Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife Central LGA, voters were seen writing their names to collect 3,000 and 10,000 naira for different political parties. While in PU 009, Ward 11, Oke Aree, Boripe LGA, party Agents stylishly peeped into the cubicle to ascertain the specific party each voter voted for.
5.5 Thuggery: The Election Security Support Centre of CLEEN Foundation observed that in some polling units, thugs were observed hanging around which instilled fear in voters for instance, in PU 011, Ward 10, Arimoro High School, Ilesa West LGA, political thugs on a bike arrived and voters were noticed panicking. Also in PU 007, Ward 11, Ido-Ijesha community, Ilesha East LGA, and PU 011, Ward 10, Arimoro High School, Ilesha West LGA thugs disrupted the voting process by shooting sporadically and carted away the ballot boxes.
6.0 RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION
In view of the above, the following recommendations are made for relevant stakeholders in preparations for the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria.
6.1 Security Agencies
1. Should ensure that electoral offenders are properly investigated and addressed to serve as a deterrent to others. This is inclusive of vote traders;
2. The successes recorded by security agencies in the Osun Governorship Election should be sustained in the 2023 General Elections.
1. The Commission should ensure sustained improvement in the distribution of election materials in polling units in subsequent elections as this will contribute to instilling confidence in the process amongst voters;
2. Should sustain awareness creation and voters’ education, especially in communities to improve the voter turn out especially as we move towards the 2023 general elections;
3. Should ensure training and retraining of electoral officers to enable them to meet up with the challenging needs of the electorates in Nigeria, particularly in understanding the provisions of the newly amended Electoral Act (2022) and other INEC legal frameworks and guidelines;
4. Should work with security agencies to ensure that all electoral offenders are investigated and prosecuted;
5. INEC should maintain the secrecy of the ballot by ensuring that the voting cubicle and the ballot boxes are close to each other to avoid other voters and party agents from interfering with the will of the people.
6. INEC should audit the number of accredited voters per-polling unit to provide for adequate materials such as BVAS to aid the accreditation and voting process.
7. INEC should maintain the existing synergy between all key electoral stakeholders such as (political parties, NURTW, security agencies, CSOs and media).
1. Should be magnanimous in victory and work with the good people of Osun State including those in the opposition parties to make the state better for all;
2. Should shun vote trading and any other form of voter inducement as it is a criminal offence as enshrined in relevant legal frameworks;
3. Should restrain their supporters and party loyalist who engage in thuggery and other forms of electoral violence before, during and after elections.
The CLEEN Foundation further commends the people of Osun State for their peaceful conduct and turnout in the election.
It also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other key Stakeholders for their professional conduct during the election.
The CLEEN Foundation also lauded the security and law enforcement agencies, led by the Nigeria Police Force for the good conduct of its personnel, which has contributed to peaceful electoral outcomes in the state. CLEEN Foundation urges the electorates to continue to hold elected officials to account to ensure that electoral promises are met and kept.