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CDD calls for Immediate Prosecution of Electoral Offenders during the Governorship and House of Assembly Elections

By CDD West Africa
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As the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections are being concluded, there are mixed feelings regarding the elections. While the elections witnessed a low turn-out compared to the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly Elections, the overall organization of the election improved considerably.

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), an organization that has been observing the 2015 general elections, deployed observers in 21 states of the federation to monitor the elections and file in reports to the CDD Analysis Centre based in Abuja.

Reacting to the general conduct of the election, Idayat Hassan, the CDD Director observed that “on the whole, the electoral process went well, showing broad compliance with electoral regulations. In most areas, electoral officials and materials arrived polling units on time and the voting environment was generally well laid-out with supporting infrastructure.” Most CDD election observers reported that security and party agents were present at most polling units without being intrusive. “Their conduct during the exercise was generally evaluated as mature and professional. Voters also maintained orderliness across the country” she added.

Despite the obvious improvement, there were serious concerns about voter apathy during the elections as manifested through low voter turn-out.CDD observed that several factors were responsible for the low voter turn-out. According to the Director of CDD, these include: “the tense electoral environment across the country; pre-election violence; the false assumption that the desired ‘change’ has been attained with the outcome of the federal elections and will therefore automatically engender solutions to the problems of governance at the state level as some of the factors.” She however raised concerns about the conduct of politicians and political parties. “The high level of reported cases of hijacking of election materials and confrontations between politicians and their party supporters led to the disruption of the election process in many areas.” She added.

For example, in a recent report titled Matters arising from the Voting Phase during the Nigeria 2015 Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections” CDD documented many cases of electoral violence perpetrated by the politicians and their supporters. The CDD Director highlighted the fact that the situation in Rivers state was particularly disturbing. “Besides reports of killings, there were also cases of arson, attacks on INEC officials and hijacking of electoral materials.” She added.

CDD noted the complicity of security agents in cases of electoral fraud and violence in several states, particularly Rivers state, where active connivance of security agents were recorded in the commission of electoral violence.

According to the CDD Director, “There is urgent need for the investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders by the authorities; a further need to ensure the non-partisanship of security agencies policing elections; and an improved management of the conduct of elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission.”

Idayat Hassan