The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been told to scrutinize and audit the results of the governorship election in Imo State held on November 11
In a comprehensive report on the Imo and Kogi governorship elections, Yiaga Africa, highlighted widespread vote-buying and voter intimidation during the polls.
INEC had declared candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Hope Uzodimma, as winner of the governorship election, with candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Labour Party, LP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu and Senator Athan Achonu, placing second and third respectively.
The report, signed by Dr. Hussein Abdu, Chair of Yiaga Africa’s WTV Working Group, also called for a thorough investigation into the conduct of some police officers involved in the Imo governorship election.
The group pointed out critical incidents such as BvAs bypass, ballot box snatching, violence, intimidation, harassment of voters, and disruption of the voting process,which occurred in some areas on polls day.
Yiaga Africa stated that its findings revealed that elections did not take place in some polling units across the state.
“These cases were prevalent in 9 polling units in Orsu, 8 polling units in Okigwe, eight polling units in Oru East, seven polling units in Orlu LGA, and one polling unit in Ideato North, Ikeduru, Oru West, and Owerri West LGAs of the WTV sampled polling units” Part of the report stated.
It stated there was non-use of BvAs for accreditation, disruptions leading to the counting of results, and the suspension of the voting process, particularly in Imo West Senatorial District.
The report also highlighted instances of voters openly displaying how they marked their ballots before dropping them into the ballot box, raising concerns about the secrecy of the voting process.
It stated that the scourge of vote-buying was particularly alarming, with reports across 11 polling units detailing voters revealing their marked ballots, which undermined the confidentiality of the voting process.
Yiaga Africa said it received reports of intimidation and harassment of voters in 14 percent of polling units in Imo State, with specific incidents documented in locations such as Central School, Uboma, Okata Ward, Ihitte Uboma LGA, PU 002, Owerri Nkworji in Nkwerre LGA, and PU 017 Ndiobo Obi in Okigwe LGA.
Reviewing the report of Yiaga Africa, Dr. Ignatius Diala, Executive Director, Centre for Development and Political Studies, Owerri, said Yiaga Africa’s report is not just a critique but a call to action.
“The organization called on INEC to conduct a thorough audit of the election results, which is a direct call on the electoral umpire to address the alleged irregularities observed during the elections” he said.