Yiaga Africa deploys 114 observers to observe rerun elections

Yiaga Africa deploys 114 observers to observe rerun elections

- Preparations are in top gear for rerun elections scheduled for Saturday, January 25 across the country

- Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote (WTV) says it will deploy 114 observers to observe the elections in four out of the eleven states

- The states are Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Imo and Kano

Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote (WTV) has announced that it will on Saturday, January 25 deploy 114 observers to observe the elections in four (Akwa Ibom, Imo, Kano and Sokoto) out of eleven states where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct court-ordered rerun elections.

According to a statement sent to journalists on Friday, January 24 by its executive director, Samson Itodo, Yiaga Africa said its observers will be deployed to observe the conduct of the elections at the polling units and the results collation process at local government area results collation centres.

Of the total number of deployed observers, 100 will be stationary in selected polling units, while 14 will serve as mobile observers.

Yiaga Africa deploys 114 observers to observe rerun elections

Yiaga Africa is Nigeria's foremost election observers group. Photo credit: YIAGA
Source: Twitter

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The statement, however, highlighted some of the challenges already been faced in the areas where rerun elections will be held.

1. INEC preparations

Yiaga Africa received reports from observers in Isiala Mbano, Okigwe and Onuimo LGAs in Imo state; Bebeji, Doguwa Kiru and Tudun Wada LGAs in Kano state; and Sokoto North and South LGAs of Sokoto state indicating a high level of preparations by INEC for the election as early as the second week of January 2020. Save for Akwa Ibom, all the other states provided stakeholders with information on the recruitment and training of ad-hoc staff for the election.

2. Poor voter engagement and potential for low voter turn-out

Based on reports from WTV observers, voter education and mobilization was low in all states especially in Akwa Ibom, Imo and Kano state. Yiaga Africa predicts poor voter turnout for the elections based on our interaction with voters who expressed concerns with the paucity of information on the elections. Across the 11 states with rerun elections, there are a total of 1,322,929 registered voters.

3. Threats of violence and insecurity

Based on reports from WTV observers, there is increasing tension in Imo state following the ruling by the Supreme Court on the governorship election. Citizens are worried that this tension could linger until the elections and has the potential to escalate to physical violence if adequate security is not provided and deployed security personnel fail to act responsibly and professionally. In Kano, there is a possible security threat to corps members in Kiru LGA due to alleged involvement of a corps member in the death of a child. INEC has indicated it will refrain from deploying corps members as ad-hoc officials in Kiru LGA.

Yiaga Africa called on security agencies to ensure adequate security of election materials, personnel and voters across all states, especially in Kano, Imo and Akwa Ibom.

“INEC should ensure adequate and timely deployment of personnel and materials to all polling units.

“The commission should strengthen its oversight to ensure strict adherence to its guidelines, particularly the use of the smart card readers for accreditation and results collation.

“In conclusion, Yiaga Africa calls on eligible voters in the respective states to come out in their numbers with their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to cast their votes for their preferred candidates,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, a group in Akwa Ibom, Akwa Ibom Liberation Movement has called on security agencies to guarantee the safety of voters during Saturday's rerun election in Essien Udim local government area of the state.

The group in a statement sent to journalists on Friday, January 24 by its secretary-general, Solomon Abasiekong, stated that there is palpable tension in the local government ahead of the primaries.

The group accused the Minister of Niger Delta affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, of planning to cause violence.

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