Civil Society Organisation, CSOs, after observing the Bayelsa State supplementary election, commended the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the electorate for their efforts towards the success of the election despite the tension, threats and challenges.
INEC conducted a supplementary governorship election in 527 polling units spread across 50 wards in seven local government areas where elections did not take place on December 5 due to irregularities.
According to CSOs, the delay in opening of polls in a number of wards were regrettable and every effort should be made to continue to improve logistics, adding that the performance and use of card readers improved and adherence in most areas to cancel results where there was variance from the electronic accreditation promoted electoral discipline.
They also observed that there was violence in Bassambiri in Nembe local government area and in other councils such as ballot-box snatching, stolen card reader, destruction of INEC results sheets and votes buying by party agents.
“In some areas, INEC staff faced unacceptable pressure or operated under duress. In future every effort should be made to strengthen assistance to electoral officials facing such threats.
“Despite clear signs of preparation for violence, key instigators were still able to move freely at the time of election. In future polls, pre-election security should be intensified.
“We call on all political parties to draw lessons from the conduct of their members, candidates and spokespeople during the Bayelsa poll and to cease actions that undermine confidence in our electoral process.
“We also call on security agencies to impartially follow up on the serious incidents that were recorded in Bayelsa so that public confidence can be maintained and citizens can participate fully in elections.’’
CSOs disclosed that unless there is reform in the conduct of the major political parties and accountability for political violence and abuse, then the re-run polls that will hold across the country will be seriously jeopardised.