Election Monitoring groups have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to perfect the deployment of voting materials to polling units across Ondo State to ensure a smooth electioneering process in the state.
Yiaga Africa, Kimpact Development Initiatives, KDI, Centre for Transparency Advocacy and Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, made the call during separate interviews with BONews Service, stressing that the transportation of voting materials before and after the election is crucial, to avoid any form of malpractice.
While speaking, Samson Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA Africa noted that preliminary reports by Yiaga’s situation room is concerned about the endorsement of gubernatorial candidates by members of NURTW who are supposed to transport voting materials to polling units.
“This is a huge source of concern.
“It is however expected that NURTW members would have been deployed to Registration Areas centers, RACs 24 hours before the elections and that they will ensure neutrality.”
“If the security agencies do not maintain transparency, there could be violence.
Speaking on expectations from INEC, Itodo buttressed that, “We expect that INEC and security agencies will be more vigilant in flashpoint areas, to curtail any form of violence.”
He noted that the result viewing portal is an innovative deployment but wants “the portal should contain results from polling units where elections are cancelled, for the purpose of transparency.”
Itodo urged the voters to “come out en-masse to cast their votes and protect it just like we saw in Edo.”
“The thugs are not more than the voters, if people come out en masse to vote, the thugs won’t have any say.”
On his part, Bukola Idowu, Executive Director, KDI explained that it is of great concerns that members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW who are expected to transport the election materials, have declared their support for their preferred candidates.
This according to Idowu could lead to sabotage in one way or the other.
He also spoke on the need for INEC to be proactive to ensure smooth deployment of materials.
“We do not doubt the neutrality of INEC, we only expect that they would put more effort in the deployment of voting materials to polling units.”
Speaking on predictions of violence before the election, Idowu noted that the neutrality of security officers would help to curtail any form of violence.
“The neutrality of security agencies is key if we must have peaceful elections in Ondo.
“We also expect that the gubernatorial candidates, after signing the peace accord, would communicate to their followers to thread carefully to ensure a peaceful election,” Idowu added.
McDonald Ekemezie, Programs officer, Centre for Transparency Advocacy, explained that his expectation from INEC is proper coordination of voting materials to polling units within the state, especially in the riverine areas.
“INEC has engaged NURTW to convey materials across the state, even though some of the NURTW members are partisan.
“This is inevitable because INEC doesn’t have the capacity to distribute the materials across the state without any assistance from another body like NURTW,” he added.
He however urged the NURTW members to display all sense of sincerity and ensure they distribute the items as at when due.
Also, during a pre-election press conference the Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said that the refusal of these governors to leave the state constituted a threat to the peaceful and credible conduct of the election.
She said they could use their immunity to get involved in malpractices like vote-buying, intimidation and could also sponsor political violence.
She said, “TMG condemns the practice of governors from other states that have invaded Ondo State and refused to leave after campaign has ended. These governors who travelled and sponsored their political expedition with the meagre resources of their states may constitute a threat to free and fair election by taking advantage of their immunity to be involved in election malpractices like vote-buying, intimidation of security operatives and sponsorship of political violence. All invading governors should leave since campaign has ended.”