Osun Rerun election not free, fair or credible — Election Monitoring group, CDD

A major election monitoring group has dismissed Thursday’s re-run election in Osun State as fraudulent and anti-democratic, calling for an immediate investigation into the the roles of government institutions who participated in it.

The conduct of security agencies drew the most condemnation and warning from the Centre for Democracy and Development, one of Nigeria’s most respected pro-democracy think-tanks.

“In the light of these anti-democratic acts, which have undermined the sanctity of the ballot therefore, we hold strongly the view that the re-run poll of Thursday, September 27, 2018 does not meet up with the minimum standards for free, fair and credible elections,” the CDD said in a statement to on Thursday afternoon. “It falls short of global best practices in democratic elections which Nigeria aspires towards.”

The Independent National Electoral Commission fixed the re-run for Thursday after declaring the 2018 governorship election inconclusive when it held on September 22. Ademola Adeleke, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, scored 254,698 votes to beat Mr Oyetola, his main All Progressives Congress rival who polled 254,345 votes.

The electoral body said the re-run was necessary because the margin between the PDP and APC (353 votes) is less than the number of registered voters (3,498) in the seven polling units where elections were cancelled for disruption or technical difficulties.

The PDP protested the decision, demanding that its candidate won the election and should be declared winner. The party also approached the court in an unsuccessful bid to procure an injunction against the re-run. The opposition party eventually agreed to participate in the poll, although with strong reservations that it would not be free or fair.

Idayat Hassan, director of CDD, said her organisation observed widespread misconduct by security agencies, including intimidation of accredited journalists, observers and even voters of the opposition party.

“CDD field observers deployed to observe the process and ensure its credibility, especially in Orolu and Osogbo LGAs, were intimidated, threatened and in some cases arrested by security forces,” CDD said.

“CDD observers reported palpable tension in Ifon, Orolu LGAs due to the high-handed conduct of the security agents who seemed bent to sway the vote the way of certain partisan interests.

“At Ajegunle Roundabout, which leads to Polling Unit 003 Ward 9 Gbogbo Primary School in Orolu LGA, security personnel mounted barricades to obstruct observer and deny them access to the polling unit.

“Observers who attempted to carry out their legitimate duties were arrested and taken to nearby police station. They were only released after being denied the opportunity to keep an eye on the process so as to guarantee its credibility,” the statement said.

The body also highlighted the arrest of Kemi Busari, a Premium Times journalist deployed as a CDD observer for the exercise, dismissing the police’s claim that he was taking picture near the polling area.

“The police officer’s stance contradicts the statement of INEC, which made it clear that voters and participants were allowed to go with their phones to polling units but not to polling booths after ballot paper must have been issued to an accredited voter,” CDD said.

“This particular incident clearly demonstrates the fact that the law enforcement agents were not properly informed about or deliberately ignored the INEC directive, which banned the use of phones in the voting cubicle, not around the overall polling environment,” CDD said. “In the face of the intimidation and unjust arrests, observers were forced to leave the Polling Units.”

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