YIAGA Africa, Watching the Vote, an accredited election observer for the Edo Saturday’s election, on Thursday called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to be consistent in applying guidelines on cancellation of votes and margin of lead.
Dr Aisha Abdullahi, the Chairman of Yiaga Africa, made the call during the group’s first pre-election news briefing held in Benin.
Abdullahi said, that given the context for the election and the early warning signs of violence, Yiaga Africa was concerned about the misapplication and inconsistency in the application of election guidelines by returning, collation, and presiding officers.
He said that the reference was in relation to cancellation of votes, entering of zero votes and application of the margin of lead.
“This is as noted by Yiaga Africa in previous elections; these tools are often used by compromised election officials to suppress votes and manipulate elections,” she said.
The Chairman also expressed concerns about the high level of pre-election violence in the state adding that stakeholders were of the view that the situation might result to voter apathy during the election.
“Voter turnout trends for Edo indicate low turnout for elections since 2011.
“Edo recorded 38.4 per cent voter turnout in the 2011 Presidential election, 32 per cent in 2016 governorship election, 28 per cent in the 2019 Presidential election and 32.8 per cent for the state Assembly election.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic and the looming climate of insecurity in the lead up to the Sept. 19, polls there is overwhelming concern that registered voters in Edo may not be motivated to vote.’’
She further explained that findings from a pre-election survey conducted by Yiaga revealed non-compliance with COVID-19 health guidelines during political parties campaigns.
“We, therefore, call on INEC to ensure strict compliance with the electoral laws and guidelines in administering the election amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Polling officials should enforce the use of facemasks and remove any voter showing the signs of COVID-19 from the polling unit,” she added.
According to her, INEC must show utmost professionalism and ensure timely, effective, and secure deployment of its staff members, materials, sensitive and non-sensitive, to enable early commencement of polls.
Mr Samson Itodo, the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, also urged the Security personnel to maintain utmost levels of neutrality and professionalism in enforcing Election Day security.
“They must respect the law and citizens’ constitutional and civic rights and refrain from excessive force.”
– Sept. 17, 2020 @ 18:56 GMT |