The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has raised alarm that Saturday’s governorship election in Osun State could be exposed to massive rigging and unprecedented vote buying.
A member of the CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC), Prof. Victor Isumonah, raised the alarm on Thursday in Abuja at the organisation’s Pre-Election Observation Report on the Osun governorship election.
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This is as the organisation said the election would constitute a sterner test of capacity for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) compared to the Ekiti election.
In the report also signed by the CDD-EAC Chair, Prof. Adele Jinadu, the organisation called for stronger monitoring by INEC.
He lamented that despite the 2022 Electoral Act, the spate of vote-buying has not reduced.
“This was evident in the Ekiti governorship election and likely to be worse in the Osun State Governorship election. During the 2018 election, three men were arrested for vote-buying by police officers and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) recorded instances of PDP agents partaking in such activities.
“CDD-EAC observers during the June 2022 Ekiti State Governorship Elections noted several instances of vote buying and calls for stronger monitoring by INEC,” Isumonah said.
He said an increasing aspect of concern was the prevalence of fake news, misinformation, inflammatory rhetoric and rising cases of cultism and street gangs in Osun which could be appropriated for electoral violence and reduced voter turnout.
He noted that the 16 July Osun State governorship election is significant because it will be the last major off-cycle election before the 2023 general elections.
He said, ”While the CDD-EAC commends the improvements recorded by INEC during the Ekiti State governorship election, such as early arrival of officials at polling units, improved performance of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) during accreditation, and speedy management of results, there is still space for improvement.
“It should be recalled that the election in Ekiti State was marred by vote buying and the occasional report of violence. It is very important for INEC to build on the progress made in Ekiti and address any other challenges with its operations.
”The CDD-EAC is concerned about the lack of an issue-based campaign by the major candidates. The CDD-EAC also expresses worry about recent instances of violence, such as the report that gun men recently attacked the home of the Labour Party’s candidate, Yusuf Lasun. Also an inexplicable fire outbreak was reported at the home of the Accord Party candidate, Akin Ogunbiyi, and the PDP reported that police officers arrested some of their members without cause in Osogbo, as well as in Ijebu-ljesha and Eti-oni in Ori-Ade and Atakumosa Local Government Areas.”