A coalition of over 80 civil rights organisations under the aegis of the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, NCCSR, on Saturday raised doubts over the credibility of the governorship election in Osun State following alleged public sale and buying of votes.
The organisation said that although priority voting was given to the elderly and persons with disabilities in most of the polling units, “a few of the polling units were located in places with staircases making it inaccessible for people with crutches.”
The NCCSR raised the issues in its second preliminary statement signed by its Co-conveners, Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu.
The statement read, “There was open negotiation of buying and selling of votes well-coordinated by the polling agents in many of the polling units. There were no complaints from any of them against each other. Codes and coupons were used to extract commitments from voters as opposed to the blatant money exchanging hands observed in the Ekiti State Governorship election.
“From Situation Room’s observations, no violence has been recorded and the number of people who came out was encouraging. We commend the people of the State of Osun for coming out early to cast their votes, especially the elderly who waited in queues patiently.
“INEC’s deployment of materials and personnel should also be commended. Vote trading was recorded in most of the areas observed particularly outside Osogbo. As voting continues, we call on all stakeholders to maintain the peaceful atmosphere recorded so far.”
The organisation also said Osun State has witnessed a high rate of Permanent Voters Cards collection, recording a total of 1,518,303 as reported by INEC.
They added that the voting day started peacefully without any indications of the apprehension that had trailed the days preceding the election.
The NCCSR said it received reports from its network of observers of the early arrival of materials and INEC officials in most of the polling units which led to the early commencement of voting.
“There was adequate presence of security personnel across the State and deployed across most of the polling units visited. Security personnel was friendly and professional in their approach. A number of them complained of not receiving their allowances ahead of the election.
“Some of the polling units were sited in residential spaces and palaces. In the polling units with large registered voters, the voting areas were rowdy implying that polling units with smaller numbers units are more orderly naturally.
“Political party agents were present in most of the polling units observed. A minimum of four party agents and a maximum of six.
“Knowledge of voting procedures and civic education of voters was very poor. Voting cubicles in many of the polling units were not positioned to ensure the secrecy of the ballots making it possible for voters to flash their votes to other people.
“The BVAS were deployed according to the number of registered voters. In polling units with over 1,000 voters, INEC kept to its promise to deploy two BVAS machines. The machines functioned credibly well.
“There were issues with the fingerprint verifications, however, the facial capture worked very well recording approximately one minute for accreditation and voting in Osogbo and in outside areas, it took longer.”
Sokoto Guber: PDP Loses At Tribunal
The Sokoto Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has affirmed the election of Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto as the duly elected governor of the state.
The three-man panel led by Justice Haruna Msheila in its ruling dismissed the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its candidate, Saidu Umar challenging the victory of the APC and its candidate, Ahmad Aliyu in the March governorship election.
In a unanimous judgment, the Tribunal Chairman, Justice Haruna Mshelia, said the Petitioners were unable to prove the six grounds formulated in the petition.
He said the grounds bordered on alleged ineligibility for Aliyu and Gobir to contest, falsification of certificates, variation of names, election frauds and non-compliance with electoral guidelines.
Msheila said the petitioners were unable to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt as required by law, saying 70 per cent of exhibits were out of context because they relate to State Assembly elections conducted on the same dates.
According to him, to prove forgery two different documents of persons needed to be presented while the variation of names issues was a settled Supreme Court provision.
He said three subpoena witnesses were not tenable as they were not makers of the documents from the alleged primary school while the other 28 polling units agents testified could not identify themselves along with their roles.
The Tribunal Chairman said the alleged 138 polling units frauds were not adduced to indicate substantial non-compliance of the elections marred the election outcome.
Mshelia added that the tribunal dismissed all the preliminary objections on competency to institute the case by the respondents as the petitioners duly linked the grounds in the petition.
He dismissed the petition for lack of merit and failure to prove the allegations by the petitioner.
Tribunal Upholds Kefas’ Election As Taraba Governor
The Taraba State governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Jalingo, yesterday, upheld the election of Agbu Kefas of the Peoples Democratic Party,(PDP) as the governor of the state.
The three-man panel headed by Justice G.A Sunmonu dismissed the petition jointly filed by the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, and its governorship candidate in the March 18, 2023 election, Professor Yahaya Sani, on the grounds of lack of sufficient evidence.
NNPP, and its gubernatorial candidate, had earlier filed a petition before the tribunal seeking the cancellation of the election which they alleged was characterised by irregularities.
Another relief sought by the NNPP and its guber candidate was for the tribunal to order a fresh election in the state.
The party also alleged non-compliance with the electoral Act 2022, as a major reason for its demand for the cancellation of the election.
The party, which also alleged that the incumbent governor of the state was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast, earlier urged the tribunal to nullify the certificate of return issued to the governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Delivering judgment, the panel unanimously ruled that the petition filed by both NNPP and its gubernatorial candidate lacked merit.
The three-man panel, collectively dismissed the petition, stating that the petitioners failed to justify the relief they sought.
Elated by the judgment, the Deputy Governor, Aminu Alkali, called on the NNPP and other opposition political parties in the state to join hands with the incumbent governor to move the state forward.
Also overwhelmed by the judgment, the counsels to the PDP, applauded the panel for the judgment.
Though the counsel of the NNPP could not be reached at the time of filing this report, a chieftain of the party who spoke with The Tide source, said he was hopeful that the party will appeal the judgment.
Nigeria@63: Lawmaker Urges Patience, Says Tinubu Won’t Disappoint Nigerians
The lawmaker representing Okitipupa/Irele Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Jimi Odimayo has called on Nigerians to exercise patience with the administration of President Bola Tinubu, assuring that salvation was near.
Odimayo who gave this assurance in a statement issued through his Director of Media and Publicity, Mr Kayode Fasua, noted the apparent hardship in the land, and drew a comparison in the allegory of labour-room pains and the subsequent joy in strapping a newborn baby.
Odimayo said “We all must reflect on how we got to this sorry pass as a nation, counting from the year of our independence in 1960 till date: how democracy was aborted for many years through military interventions and how we are again back on track trying to improve on our democratic skills.
“However, in spite of various hiccups ranging from maladministration to corruption and other unpatriotic practices, we should renew hope, especially now that a good leader with verifiable antecedent in the person of President Bola Tinubu is in the driver’s seat.
“Ours can be assessed in the allegory of labour room pains that must be experienced during childbearing, before the mother beams with smiles at successful delivery; and that is what obtains now in the attempt by President Tinubu to right many wrongs and put Nigeria on the path to political and socio-economic greatness,”
While urging Nigerians to exercise patience and team up with all arms of government to achieve desired results, the lawmaker also called on political officeholders to tighten their belts and bend to work as justification to the electorate’s mandate.
According to him, the ballot box is the nemesis for all political leaders who failed in their vow to deliver the dividends of democracy.
“The last general elections held up many lessons for the political class, that unlike in the past, the level of voters’ awareness has risen stunningly in geometric proportions, as the people are mostly no longer for vote-buying and rigging, but are determined to scrutinise the qualities of candidates seeking their votes,” he stressed.
Odimayo similarly assured the people of his Okitipupa/Irele constituency and the entire Ondo State citizenry that he had designed various empowerment programmes and had stepped up various social infrastructural development lobbies, all of which will start manifesting soon.
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