Social media was awash with a number of persons allegedly involved in vote buying as the Osun election was going on yesterday.
Checks on twitter handle of the Nigeria police shows @NigeriaPoliceforce gave an account as saying that an agent of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) with a compiled list of names and a significant amount of money at ward 11, unit 14 of osogbo local councils.
“He was arrested alongside another individual simply identified as AY, two other suspects were reportedly arrested at Iwo also but this time was through an election observer and was handed over to the police for necessary action.
Also, in Iragbiji, Headquarters of Boripe Local Council, the treasurer of All Progressives Congress (APC) was allegedly arrested for attempting to induce voters with money.
At Ilare Ward 4 in Ilodo, Ile Ife, an APC chieftain was arrested for allegedly holding out N300, 000 to induce voters. Another party chieftain in Iwo was allegedly arrested with the sum of N600, 000, which was confirmed by the Resident Electoral Officer, Mr Segun Agbaje. Agbaje in an interview with channels news monitored by our correspondent said, “It is true that two individuals were arrested for vote buying in Iwo. This was confirmed by the report of our field officers in that area.”
Agbaje, however, did not disclose the party the suspects belong to but said the commission was awaiting full details. Voters in the state trooped out to polling precinct as early as 8am for accreditation, cast their votes, and wait to ascertain the results of the exercise in their units.
Meanwhile, foreign observers have commended the exercise in Osun election that which it adjudged to be far better contested by voters, as well as, local and foreign observer groups that monitored the poll.
The foreign observers led by the European Union and local motoring groups in an interview with channels broadcast monitored by urban express news online also commended the exercise, describing it as largely peaceful and without calls for any emergency.
This tacit endorsement of the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and others involved in the exercise was also reflected a number of interim reports released by civil society groups.
However, INEC’s efforts and that of security agencies notwithstanding, they both failed to curb the incidence of vote-buying. While five persons were arrested by the police for alleged vote-buying, the exercise witnessed a few skirmishes here and there. There were also cases of malfunctioning of card readers in some polling units and cases of missing names on INEC register.
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in partnership with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), which deployed 180 trained and accredited observers for the election, in its “Preliminary Report Of The 2018 Governorship Election In Osun State,” said, “CDD-PTCIJ observer reports indicate that election materials arrived in most polling units on time; the accreditation and voting process commenced with minimal hitches to the voting process.”
It added: “Although some voter’s experienced slight challenges while passing through the card reader accreditation process, CDD-PTCIJ observers reported that the card reader issues were not widespread enough, as to affect the ability of citizens to exercise their franchise. The voter turnout is impressive compared to previous off-cycle elections. We are hopeful it may be at par with the 53 per cent turnout recorded in the last 2014 governorship election of the state.”
The group added that the ban of the use of mobile phones and other recording devices in voting cubicles by INEC “largely thwarted blatant vote buying. In most of the polling units where we observed the ongoing election, voters willingly complied with the policy, and in a case of such attempt to violate the policy, law enforcement agents and INEC officials saw to its enforcement. The Nigerian Police tweeted the arrest of two votes buyers.” CLEEN Foundation, a civil society group, in a statement in Abuja, by the its Executive Director, Dr. Benson Olugbuo, said some police officers abandoned their polling units frequently, while vote- buying was recorded in some polling units.
The group said in places like Isokan LGA, there were a few incidences of police officers abandoning the polling unit frequently in places such as Iremo Ward 2 Ife Central LGA, adding that the alleged cases of vote buying were recorded at polling units 1 ward 3 of Atakunmosa West LGA, Ward 8 Unit 2 Irewole LGA, Egbedore LGA ward 2 unit 2, Iremo ward 2 Ife Central LGA, and Ifedayo LGA Oke Afin Polling Unit 7.
The statement added that some of the policemen deployed seem not have understood INEC’s directive “on the ban of the use of phones/cameras at the voting cubicle.“There were cases of police officers arresting and hindering the electorate and journalists from observing the elections, using their mobile and video devices, Iwo LGA and Odo Otin LGA Ward 14 are pointer cases.“In Oriade LGA, we also observed a few cases of a police officer on patrol bearing arms around the polling units. This runs contrary to the code of conduct of police officers on electoral duty. On the whole, the election can be adjudged violence-free.”