The people of Osun State were out today in large numbers to elect a new Governor. Reports from various parts of the State have confirmed that the election was generally peaceful and voters turn-out impressive.
During the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) warned that anyone caught declaring fake results shall be prosecuted using relevant extant laws of the country. “Warning!!! Announcing or Publishing a false election result is an offence. It’s a criminal offence punishable by a term of imprisonment”, INEC read the riot act.
INEC says the official results will be uploaded on their platforms as declared by the Returning Officer for the election. It remarkable that various observers on the field have commended INEC on the peaceful conduct of the election.
Furthermore, INEC says it has not completely banned the use of mobile phones at polling units but at polling booths. Members of the public were encouraged to use the newly introduced ereporter App the Commission just introduced, which can be downloaded from Android Play Store. The App allows the public to provide feedbacks on the conduct of the election.
International observers commended INEC on the conduct of the election. For example, members of the EU observer group, in particular those from Sweden, had this to say about the election: “All day out in Osun State today for diplomatic watch of the Governorship election, here in Oriade LGA in east Osun. We’ve seen calm and generally well conducted elections by INEC.”
The EU delegation monitoring the election says the conduct of election was impressive and believe that it is a litmus test for the general elections in 2019. The team was led by Ambassador Ketil Karlsen.
Though the delegation said it was premature to say the elections were free of violence, they expressed happiness with the calmness of the people.
“Clearly, INEC has learnt from previous experiences, and we commend their solid work so far. What’s going on in Osun is important; because it’s litmus test for Nigeria in 2019. We’ve seen very good voter behaviour so far”, Amp. Ketil Karlsen, the head of the EU delegation said.
The delegation urged the people not to sell their votes and says “we hope their votes will count”. “They should resist all temptations to sell their votes. And we hope their votes will count because that’s the essence of democracy – to select the leader with the best solutions,” Karlsen added.
In the meantime, two Civil Society Groups monitoring the Osun State governorship election on Saturday said the Independent National Electoral Commission secret balloting helped to make it difficult for people to engage in vote buying and selling.
The Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Mr Samson Itodo, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the group was monitoring the election in 250 polling units. Mr. Itodo said thus far, it was obvious that INEC made deliberate efforts to ensure the secrecy of the ballot.
“There were two things INEC assured the stakeholders of, first was the reconsideration of the polling units, the ballot box, and the cubicle would be placed closer to each other.
“The polling officials were carrying out voter education in the morning, especially on how to roll their ballot papers according to the election guidelines provided by INEC guidelines.
“So, INEC kept to its promise of secret balloting, however, there were still some instances where voters intentionally exposed their ballot, in fact, one actually happened before me.’’
Inclusiveness Vital for Democracy – EU Observers
Meanwhile, it has been said that inclusiveness is an important component of democratic process and critical to its survival. This was part of the observation of made today during the tour of polling units across Osun State by EU observers.
The team found that a visually impaired man came out to vote and they expressed delight over the development. The team stated that they wish that more people with disability would come out to exercise their voting right.
“We are pleased to see the visually impaired coming out to vote. We hope to see more people with disability participating in the electoral process. Inclusiveness is vital to democracy.”
Police Arrest Suspected Vote Buyers
Also today, the Police in Osun State have confirmed the arrest of three men on account of vote buying. Two suspects were arrested at Iwo with the sum of Six Hundred and Four Thousand Naira (NGN604,000.00) only. The other was arrested in Osogbo.
“Two (2) suspected vote buyers have been arrested by a team of police personnel on election duty at Iwo LGA of OSUN State and the sum of N604,000 recovered from their possession. Investigation is being intensified”, the police tweeted on their official Twitter handle, @PoliceNG.
The other suspected vote buyer, a PDP Chieftain, who had also been taken into custody by the Nigeria Police, is Mr. Adeagbo Wasiu.
There is an “arrest of one Mr Adeagbo Wasiu, a suspected PDP Chieftain at Ward 8 Unit 9 Fiwasaye Area of Osogbo. He was apprehended in the act of votes buying and the sum of One Hundred and Sixteen Thousand (116,000) was recovered from him. Investigation is ongoing.”
Election Results Awaited
Meanwhile, voting has ended across polling units in the State, and results are being collated. While some polling units have finished collating and counting, counting is still ongoing in most parts of the State.
We shall keep you updated with the final results as announced by INEC.