YIAGA AFRICA, a Civil Society Organisation, says voter inducement is already ongoing in Kogi and Bayelsa ahead of the Nov. 16 governorship poll.
Mr Samson Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA in a statement on Thursday, said that the organisation noticed voter inducement during its Voter Education Campaign and Pre-election Observation.
Itodo said that YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote project deployed Long Term Observers to Local Government Areas in both Kogi and Bayelsa to observe pre-election environment.
He said that some findings were in the areas of Independent National Electoral Commission preparedness, political campaign, voter education and participation of marginalised groups, and early warning signs of electoral violence among other things.
“Generally, voter inducement was reported in at least one in every three of the 21 LGAs in Kogi, and in all LGAs in Bayelsa.
“WTV observers witnessed or heard of cases of voter inducement in Kolokuma,Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Ogbia, Nembe and Sagbama LGAs in Bayelsa.
“They also observed or heard of voter inducement in Adavi, Ogori, Mangogo, Okehi, Okene, Bassa, Ibaji, Idah, Kabba/Bunu and Kogi K.K LGA of Kogi,’’ he said.
Itodo said that observers also monitored the pre-election environment relating to the activities of INEC from November 9 to the last week of the pre-election observation from September 9 to October 3, 2019.
He said it was noticed that Permanent Voters’ Cards distribution were conducted by INEC and voter education was also conducted in collaboration with National Orientation Agency and Civil Society Organisations across the states.
He recommended that INEC should ensure inclusion, especially for all marginalised groups, because there was need for proactive and targeted communication using different channels of communication on the electoral process.
He also urged INEC to beef off its oversight and monitoring mechanisms to further strengthen and ensure compliance to the electoral laws and guidelines, while avoiding unnecessary postponements of poll.
Itodo called on INEC to come up with robust mechanism and collaborate with both state and non-state actors to curb the menace of buying and selling of PVCs and other forms of voter inducement.
He advised security agencies to be more intentional in addressing early signs of violence like hate speech, physical attacks, communal crises, voter inducements, and other criminal activities ongoing in the pre-election environment.
He said that security agencies must engage in active communication with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and operations ahead of the election.
He encouraged political party candidates and supporters to ensure they promote unity and peaceful election by refraining from any form of physical or verbal attacks on opponents or their supporters.
He advised political parties to invest in getting votes and mobilising voters to turn out peacefully to vote and not delve into undemocratic ways like buying of PVCs and inducing voters to win .
According to Itodo, the election is about Nigerians, every Nigerian has a role to play to promote peaceful election, so voters should get ready to vote with their PVCs and not sell them for short-time gain.