- Yiaga Africa says the activities of cult groups and political thugs are a major threat to the gubernatorial polls in Osun state
- Security agencies have been urged to step up their game while commending them on the recent clamp down on some political thugs in the state
- However, Yiaga Africa has also charged INEC to also help hasten the collection process of permanent voter cards (PVCs)
Osun, Osogbo - Election observer group, Yiaga Africa, in its observation report, says the political and security atmosphere of the Osun state gubernatorial polls remains tensely unpredictable at present.
Yiaga Africa made these submissions via a statement made available to Legit.ng on Wednesday, July 6
According to the statement, the group raised concerns over "the recent escalation in the activities of political thugs and cultists in Osun."
The group said the activities of these cult groups and thugs remain a potential hindrance to the smooth-running of the gubernatorial polls.
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The group revealed how disruption of PVC collection in local governments and violent clashes as been perpetrated by thugs within the state.
Similarly, Yiaga Africa noted that there has been a high rate of voter inducement as well as the collection rate of permanent voters cards (PVCs).
The group said:
"We commend INEC on its efforts in the PVC collection exercise for both old and new registrants.
"However, we are concerned about the strategies deployed to ensure that the over 333,179 newly produced/printed Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) are collected by voters before the election on July 16, 2022.
"Yiaga Africa is specifically worried about the report from Atakunmosa West Local Government Area of collusion with an INEC staff to sell prospective voters’ PVCs for the purpose of malpractice ahead of the elections."
Yiaga Africa rolls out recommendation for Osun polls
Meanwhile, Yiaga Africa reeled out a series of recommendations for INEC, security agencies, residents and other electoral stakeholders.
The recommendations as seen below:
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
1. Yiaga Africa commends INEC for the implementation of the preparatory activities and calls on INEC to provide better oversight over the activities ongoing at the LGA levels. We also call on INEC to come up with a seamless and stress-free PVC collection strategy across the LGAs to boost citizens' confidence and encourage participation.
2. INEC should intensify the education of citizens and stakeholders on the consequences of vote-trading, especially on Election Day.
3. To increase electoral transparency and accountability, INEC should make the PVC collection data public in the state and make the information available on its website.
4. The commission should improve communication on its processes and procedures ahead of the elections. Especially on the deployment of technologies and application of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the election to avoid misinformation.
5. As the elections draw near, security agencies working on the elections should ensure that all personnel deployed are adequately trained and operate with all sense of responsibility, professionalism and neutrality.
6. Security agencies should ensure the arrest and prosecution of all involved in any form of violence and voter inducement in the days leading to the election.
7. Security agencies, especially the police, should publicize hotlines for citizens to make complaints, report incidents, or access information on the election.
8. Yiaga Africa calls on all political parties to engage in issue-based campaigns and shun luring voters with unsustainable gifts that would not lead to the economic development of the State.
9. Political parties and candidates should disengage themselves from encouraging thuggery and cultism through monetary gifts during campaigns as it encourages violence.
10. Media organizations should ensure fair coverage of all the candidates/parties contesting in the election devoid of bias or prejudice.
11. CSOs in Osun should continue to engage in get-out-the-vote campaigns to mobilize citizens to participate in the electoral process. Specifically, they should engage more in targeted campaigns to increase the participation of women, youth and PWDs.
12. Yiaga Africa calls on all registered voters in Osun State who have not collected their permanent voter cards (PVCs), to collect their cards as the collection of PVCs is ongoing in all INEC LGA offices and to vote on election day.
13. Yiaga Africa calls on citizens to shun all forms of voter inducement as it undermines the democratic process
Osun 2022: INEC chairman visits polling units for inspection
Meanwhile, INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu has commenced a tour of some of the polling units in Osun state.
He also inspected the non-sensitive materials expected to be used during the election in order to ensure the readiness of INEC staff.
Prof. Yakubu, however, assured residents of Osun that the election will be seamless and even better than that of Ekiti.
2023 election: Allegations of extortion in CVR Centers by INEC officials emerge
In another development, Yiaga Africa had earlier called on the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend the CVR exercise by three weeks.
It also called for an investigation of allegations of bribery and non-deployment of personnel in some Registration Centers.
Commends INEC for deploying additional 209 machines to Kano, Lagos, and five states in the Southeast.