The YIAGA Africa has said that despite the efforts to contain vote-buying and other electoral malpractices, political parties, candidates, and politicians still engaged in and abetted vote-buying during the last Saturday’s Nasarawa State bye-elections.
This is contained in the report of YIAGA Africa on the conduct of the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election and signed by Samson Itodo, the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa.
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According to him, the secrecy of the ballot was severely compromised by party agents who interfered with the voting process and engaged in vote-buying and voting by proxy.
“Votes traded between N500 and N1,000 across polling units observed, especially in PU 004, UNG Mallam, PU 005, and PU 006 Angwan Dutse,” the report said.
The report said that the Nasarawa bye-election underscored the complexity of safeguarding public health and electoral integrity.
“Despite low voter turnout, technological challenges, and non-compliance with some public health guidelines, the election was peaceful with no incidences of violence.
“The security agencies maintained professional conduct throughout the election.
“The voters in Nasarawa LGA deserve commendation for their resilience to participate in the election despite the logistical hiccups that resulted in the late commencement of voting in several polling units and the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While INEC took some measures to follow COVID-19 health guidelines, including providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like face masks, hand gloves, thermometer for temperature checks and hand sanitizers at all observed polling units and sanitizing all voters’ fingers before reading their fingerprints with the Smart Card Reader, INEC experienced challenges maintaining a physical distance between voters and ensuring that all voters wore face masks/coverings while at the polls.
“In addition to massive vote-buying, political parties provided face masks and hand washing equipment at the polling units to lure voters to cast their votes.
“It is evident that INEC and other health institutions will need to take measures based on lessons learned from this election to guarantee the enforcement of health safety guidelines during subsequent elections amidst COVID-19, particularly for the upcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo,” the report said.
He, therefore, urged INEC to collaborate with security agencies to enforce all safety guidelines, particularly those regarding wearing face masks/covering and maintaining a physical distance between voters among other recommendations.