Ballot box snatching, violence, over voting, other trends that marked the 2023 elections

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Different trends from across various states in Nigeria have set in following the March 18 2023 gubernatorial elections, Ogunwatch observed.

The European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria 2023 also knocked the Independent National Electoral Commission for failing to live up to expectations in Nigeria’s electoral process.

The Chief Observer, EU Election Observation Mission, Barry Andrews, in a statement on Monday said the appetite was lost due to failures by the political elite and INEC.

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Andrews said, “Throughout the mission, we saw that Nigerians have a great appetite for democracy and are keen to engage in various civic activities. However, in many parts of the country, their expectations were not met. Many were disappointed and we witnessed voter apathy that is in part, a clear consequence of failures by political elites and, unfortunately, also by INEC.

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“Public confidence and trust in INEC were severely damaged on 25 February due to lack of transparency and operational failures in the conduct of the federal level polls.

Party officials caught trying to buy votes

“Up until the postponement, INEC continued to abstain from providing information, limiting its communication to a few press releases and ceremonial statements and hence failing to address public grievances and rebuild confidence in the electoral process.

He noted that the March 18 elections did not face the same problems with the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System as on 25 February as results were uploaded and displayed for public scrutiny.

Andrew, however, added that despite these improvements, “Polling on Election Day was disrupted by multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters, polling officials, observers, and journalists.  Lagos, Kano, and other states in the southern and central parts were the most affected.

Unfortunately, there were many casualties and fatalities. Vote-buying, also directly observed by EU EOM observers, further detracted from the appropriate conduct of the
elections.”

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In Ogun state,the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday declared the incumbent governor Dapo Abiodun, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the state governorship election held on Saturday.

Abiodun who had a total vote of 276,298 while his closest rival and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Ladi Adebutu, had 262,383 and candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Barr. Olubiyi Otegbeye, had 94,754

However, unlike the Presidential, the Gubernatorial and House of Representatives elections was not peaceful in the state.

Man arrested by soldiers for snatching ballot box

The turnout of voters was very low and some youth were seen playing foot ball on the Sagamu expressway, when asked why they responded that their vote in the presidential elections did not count so there was no need voting as same would repeat itself.

OgunWatch also observed that violence was rampant and in some areas of the state and there were little or no security operatives.

Our correspondent in the state reports that security operatives were not on ground in some polling unit.

Woman caught in Lagos for duplication of electoral materials.

In Itoko ward 6, Polling Unit opposite town hall, the polling unit of Afolabi Afuape, winner of House of Representatives election in Abeokuta South Federal Constituency, just one NSCDC officer was on ground with no police men.

The polling unit was occupied by thugs threatening the voters as they exercise their franchise.

At OjuAgemo PU 3 Ward 4 there is agitation as opportunity was given to the elderly and some youth you are just coming tried to take advantage of it.

It was also noticed that just one security official was seen on duty and as at the time of leaving police men were seen just coming.

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On getting to the polling unit of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole PU 6, Ward 10, Sodeke/Isale-Ijeun I, Abeokuta South Local Government Area of the state, at first journalists were threatened by thugs not to use our phones or cameras to capture the collation process and just one female police officer was seen on duty.

Even voters on grounds were scared until information got across to the Police PRO Abimbola Oyeyemi and more officers were sent.

Chaos also surfaces the Abeokuta south constituency ii wards 13 polling unit 22, Itorio odo area of the state as political thugs disrupt electoral process and chased journalists with axe.

It was also observed that in four wards and seven unit in Remo North and Odogbolu local government there was cancellation of election due violence, ballot snatching and in one of the wards the BVAS malfunctioned.

In Lagos, the APC candidate and current governor of the state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was announced as the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
 
After the APC surprisingly lost to the Labour Party (LP) at the presidential election, which saw Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the incumbent governor emerged winner of the poll, the hope of the Labour Party in repeating the victory could not be fulfilled, and the fear of the APC in losing the state to the party was overcome.
 
At the INEC’s collation center in Yaba, Lagos, the governor was declared the winner with 762,134 votes, while his closest rival, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party, polled 312,329 votes. The candidate of the PDP, Olajide Adediran, came in third with 62,449 votes.
 
However, there were also series of physical assaults and attacks on voters who cast their votes for their preferred candidates especially on those who wanted to vote for the opposition parties. However, it is noteworthy that the incidents to be reported are based on photos and videos reported on social media. Some of them are:
 
 
A voter was stabbed by another voter, at the Eti Osa local government vocational e-library center on Saturday, at his polling unit 029, Ward B. He said the alleged voter who stabbed him told him to leave the polling unit, and that he should go vote in his village. However, he later stabbed him due to his persistence to leave the scene (polling unit).
 
Also, at Surulere, thugs attacked voters; hitting them with a plastic chair and throwing things at them at a polling unit, which made them run to leave the scene.
 
In addition, at Isolo, it was reported that APC thugs broke a voter’s leg. This was revealed in a video and pictures shared by a person on Twitter, along with an audio recording of when the incident happened.
 
Furthermore, alleged APC thugs in Mushin beat a man for insisting on voting for the Labour Party’s candidate. A similar incident happened in Akuberu, Ojo Alaba. Similarly, people who wanted to vote for the Labor Party at Shomolu in Abiodun Street, were beaten by APC thugs. 
 
In a video with the Punch trademark, at polling unit 003 in Bestford Avenue/Ganiyu Yusuff Oke-Afa Ejigbo, Lagos, armed thugs attacked the polling unit, but the Armed Forces successfully intervened, to sabotage their violence.

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