YIAGA Africa urges INEC to ensure more consistent, harmonious coordination of ICCES on Election Security

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—- calls on security agencies to respect the rights of citizens, media, observers

—- says Political party leaders, candidates, supporters should refrain from instigating insecurity in the state

A non governmental organization,  YIAGA Africa  has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC):, to ensure more consistent and harmonious coordination within the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).

This it said is to ensure proper security of polling officials deployed in the Registration Area Centers ahead of the Election Day deployment.

The organization stressed that INEC should ensure proper coordination with the security agencies to  forestall incidences of violence and ensure the safety of voters and poll officials on election day

In its pre-election statement signed by Ezenwa Nwagwu, Board Member Samson Itodo, Executive Director Yiaga Africa and Cynthia Mbamalu Director of ProgramsYiaga Africa, added that INEC Should ensure proper and consistent communication with the transport union and companies providing logistics support for Election Day deployment.

“This also includes the need for contingency plans in situations where respective transport unions /companies withdraw from the contract or fail to deploy.Consistent with INEC’s promise of expanding citizens’ access to polling units, INEC should ensure Election Day voting materials and personnel are deployed to all polling units with registered voters in the state.

On Security, Yiaga Africa called on security agencies deployed for the election to respect the rights of citizens, media, and observers, including the right to freedom of movement on Election Day for duly accredited observers and media practitioners.

It urged Security agencies to ensure protection for vulnerable voters, especially women and persons with disabilities. Security personnel should enforce appropriate sanctions for any form of violation of the Electoral Act on Election Day, especially any threat to the right to vote or attempts to buy votes.

“Security agencies should deploy monitoring mechanisms to checkmate and curtail personnel excesses on Election Day.Political PartiesPolitical party candidates and supporters should ensure they promote peaceful elections, encourage citizens to collect their PVCs to vote and refrain from any form of physical or verbal attacks on opponents or their supporters.

*Political party leaders, candidates and supporters should refrain from manipulating the insecurity in the state by creating mayhem and politically related attacks/crises.   Political parties, candidates, and their supporters must refrain from vote-buying and the related practice of compromising the ballot’s secrecy so that the voters of Anambra state are free to vote their preference for governor.

“CSOs should engage in building citizens’ confidence ahead of the elections and encourage voters to turn out and vote.CitizensVoting in elections is the legitimate means of making citizens’ voices heard and of recruiting desirable leaders.

*Citizens should get involved in getting out the vote campaigns as the Election Day approaches in order to increase participation and voter turnout.

“Yiaga Africa urges voters to desist from selling their votes and to vote according to their preferences on November 6.Conclusion On Election Day, Yiaga Africa’s WTV Data Centre Anambra will open at 6:00 am and will remain open until counting has finished at all sampled polling units and all WTV citizen observers have sent in all eight of their observation reports. Yiaga Africa’s data center is open to the public and media at all times.

The statement reads “Throughout Election Day, Yiaga Africa will provide – as appropriate – updates on the conduct of the election based on the near real-time reports from its observers. These will be released at the data center and posted on social media at Yiaga Africa’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yiaga.org) and Yiaga Africa’s Twitter page (@YIAGA).

On Saturday, November 6, 2021, at the Vertex Hotel, Awka, Yiaga Africa will share its preliminary WTV findings on the conduct of set-up, accreditation, voting and counting. Immediately after INEC announces the official results for the gubernatorial election, Yiaga Africa will hold its own press conference and issue its election results verification statement.

Verification of the election results will be based on the INEC official results as announced by-poll officials at the WTV sampled polling units.Yiaga Africa appeals to INEC’s permanent and ad hoc staff, all security agents, political party candidates and their supporters as well as all Anambra people to work together to ensure that the Anambra governorship election is credible and peaceful.

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We wish to encourage all registered, PVC-holding voters of Anambra to go out on Saturday, 6th November 2021 to vote their choice in the Governorship election.Thank you and God Bless the people of Anambra State. Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”

“On November 6, 2021, the people of Anambra State will go to the polls to elect a governor in what promises to be a very competitive election.

The Anambra governorship election will be the first state-wide elections to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since the expansion of voter access to polling units by INEC.

In Anambra state, the expansion of voter access to polling units resulted in the creation of 1,112 new polling units from the existing polling units to improve citizens’ access and participation in the electoral process. In addition, the Commission will also be deploying the newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), a replacement to the Smart Card Reader.

The BVAS has a dual capacity for fingerprint authentication and facial recognition. All the eighteen (18) political parties are on the ballot having fulfilled all conditions for candidates’ nomination.

The Yiaga Africa Watching the Vote (WTV) has so far released four reports on the Anambra 2021 pre-election environment. The findings from its observation periods reveal an upward trend in the preparatory activities by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and a shift in the level of voter education and information campaigns.

The WTV findings also revealed that the campaigns have been dominated by three political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Violent attacks, political intimidation, violent enforcement of the sit-at-home order and threats to shut down the region by secessionist groups remain a consistent trend.

This volatility impeded the conduct of political party campaigns, voter education and mobilization by electoral stakeholders who continue to deploy with more caution.

Anambra East, Ogbaru LGA, Nnewi North, Orumba North and Ihiala are considered potential hotspots for violence based on early warning signs of violence. Yiaga Africa notes that there may likely be a further decline in voter turnout in the state due to the threat of violence and a pervasive culture of voter apathy in the state.

Low voter turnout enhances the chances for electoral manipulation in the rural areas and strongholds of the major political parties. Summary of Findings from the Yiaga Africa Pre-Election Observation Yiaga Africa commenced its Pre-Election Observation (PREO) from August 2021 with 27 Long Term Observers (LTOs) deployed across the 21 LGAs. The PREO captures activities of the key election stakeholders: INEC, Political parties, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), government response to COVID-19 as well as indicators of electoral violence.

The WTV PREO findings reveal incidents of violence, vandalism and the destruction of properties belonging to candidates and their supporters.

Beyond electoral campaigns, WTV findings indicate early commencement of election activities by INEC in line with the timetable and schedule of activities issued by the Commission. INEC, NOA, and civil society organizations, including religious/faith-based organizations, were visibly involved in voter education and citizen mobilization. Comprehensive reports of our pre-election observation can be downloaded from our website – www.yiaga.org or www.watchingthevote.org.

Here are key trends in the pre-election environment as reported by Yiaga Africa citizens’ observers; State of INEC’s preparedness: INEC demonstrated commitment and readiness in conducting the 2021 Anambra governorship election.

The Commission successfully implemented activities in the election timetable and schedule of activities. In the last reporting period, WTV LTO Observers heard of and witnessed preparatory activities carried out by INEC across the 21 Local Government Areas of Anambra State.

These activities include; voter registration and display claims and objections, voter education, distribution of voter register to political parties, recruitment and training of polling officials’ staff as well as distribution of election observation kits. Yiaga Africa also notes INEC’s consistency with stakeholder engagement.

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Increased Reports of Voter Inducement: The WTV tracked incidents of voter inducements manifested through distribution of money or gift items. Generally, the campaigns were bereft of policy debates. In Ogbaru Awka North, Ayamelum, Idemili North and Onitsha North LGAs parties and candidates distributed fabrics materials (Ankara), money (N1500) and other gift items during party campaigns. Violence during Political Campaigns and Attack on Political Party Supporters: Yiaga Africa received reports of physical violence during political party rallies and campaigns in Awka North and Ihiala LGAs as well as violent and fatal attacks on political party supporters and various government institutions by unidentified assailants in Anambra East, Ogbaru LGA, Nnewi North, Orumba North and Ihiala LGA.

These attacks led to the destruction of properties. Inter-Communal Conflicts: Yiaga Africa received reports of ongoing inter-communal conflicts that impacted on pre-election activities in some LGA’s and led to violent attacks within the communities. Reports of inter-communal conflicts were reported in Njikoka, Dunukofia, Ayamelum, Idemili North, Anambra East and Ogbaru LGA. Non-compliance with COVID-19 Public Health Protocols: Despite the COVID-19 situation in the state coupled with INEC’s policy guide on conducting elections in the COVID-19 pandemic, Yiaga  Africa observed non-compliance with public health protocols during campaigns.

Party supporters flouted the public health guidelines by not wearing face masks or maintaining social distancing. Yiaga Africa notes the failure of political parties to develop COVID-19 protocol for ensuring adherence to COVID-19 public health protocols.

Matters Arising on the 2021 Anambra Governorship Election New polling units and imbalance in the distribution of voters to polling units: Yiaga Africa commends efforts by INEC to improve voter access to polling units by creating additional 1,112 polling units in Anambra State. Yiaga Africa is however concerned that there are 963 polling units with 750 or more registered voters with some of these polling units having over 1,000 registered voters. With the likely shortfall in the number of polling officials, the high number of registered voters in these polling units may pose a major challenge for crowd control and effective management of the polling units on Election Day.

Deployment of new technology to promote electoral integrity: The decision to deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will no doubt improve the quality and transparency of elections. Yiaga Africa hopes that the capacity gaps and technology challenges highlighted in our report on Isoko South 1 Constituency by-election where the devices were first introduced have been addressed, in order not to disenfranchise eligible voters on technical grounds. Potential threats to the safety of voters, observers, election officials and materials: The Anambra elections will no doubt be conducted under unusual circumstances. As reported in Yiaga Africa’s PREO reports, the pre-election period was fraught with violence emanating from inter-communal conflicts, activities of assailants/cult groups and increased activities of secessionist groups in the geo-political zone.

The security agencies assured INEC and citizens of adequate security for the election. Yiaga Africa therefore urges security agencies to be non-partisan and professional in the discharge of their duties and ensure a safe Anambra State for voters to exercise their civic right in choosing the next governor of the state. Yiaga Africa also expects that the deployment of security in Anambra will be distributed across all polling units and not limited to selected locations.

Logistics deployment, especially in riverine communities of Anambra West LGAs: Yiaga Africa calls the attention of INEC and security agencies to notorious blind spots and riverine communities that could pose a logistical challenge and undermine the integrity of the election. To ensure the early commencement of polls in those areas, INEC should ensure timely deployment of its officials and materials and improved security to safeguard election materials and officials.

Improved oversight is required to ensure consistency in the application of election guidelines. In the 2017 Anambra governorship election, Yiaga  Africa PVT findings showed late opening of polls in several polling stations (only 28% of polling units had officials and materials 30 minutes after official commencement time and 75% of polling units commenced accreditation and voting at 10:00 am).

As indicated in our 2017 final report, improved oversight will certainly neutralize any attempt to compromise the integrity of the election.  Election Day Violence and Effective Security Deployment: Based on pre-election violence reports, Yiaga Africa is concerned about threats of violence on Election Day.

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While the contesting political parties and candidates have committed to a Peace Accord, the security agencies need to deploy with competence, professionalism, and neutrality on Election Day. Upholding these principles will prevent incidents of violence on Election Day and secure lives and properties.

The declining turnout of voters: Since 2015, voter turnout has not exceeded 25% in Anambra state. In the 2017 governorship election, turnout was 22% while 26.16% turnout was recorded in the 2019 presidential election. Based on INEC’s data, an additional 1,112 polling units have been added to the existing polling units in Anambra state.

This is expected to increase voter access to the polling units on Election Day. Though these laudable initiatives are put in place, the pre-election violence has created an atmosphere of apprehension that may lead to further decline in voter turnout. With the cancellation of the sit-at-home order issued by the IPOB, we expect more voters will show up at the election to vote.

Yiaga Africa Election Observation Methodology Yiaga Africa is deploying its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for Saturday’s election.  The PVT is an advanced election observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and sophisticated information technologies in providing timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting, and it independently verifies the official governorship results as announced by the INEC.

The PVTs are not opinion polls. Yiaga Africa citizen observers do not ask voters for whom they cast their ballot. PVT relies solely on official results from polling units.

This tested and proven election observation methodology has been deployed in over 50 countries worldwide, including Nigeria – most recently by Yiaga Africa in the 2020 Edo and Ondo governorship elections where it observed process improvements and verified the official results as declared by INEC.

Yiaga Africa also deployed the PVT in the 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa governorship election, where it detected fraud and manipulation of results collation and thereby declined to verify the official results declared by INEC. Yiaga Africa will deploy 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 248 polling units and 27 mobile observers located in all 21 LGAs of Anambra state.

WTV will also deploy 21 collation center observers to each of the LGA Collation Centers. The sampled polling units were determined by established statistical principles to ensure the resulting information is representative of the state and unbiased.

The PVT sample of polling units was drawn according to well-established statistical principles and is truly representative of all of the polling units because the percentage of sampled polling units for each LGA is similar to the percentage of all polling units for each LGA.

Over the course of Election Day, Yiaga Africa’s data center in Anambra will receive 4,500 text messages containing approximately 60,500 individual pieces of information about the 2021 Anambra governorship election. Once the text messages are received at Yiaga Africa’s data center, they will be processed and reviewed to ensure the information is complete, authentic and accurate.Since Yiaga Africa is based on official results from a representative random sample of polling units, Yiaga Africa will be able to estimate the state-wide results for the governorship election within a narrow range based on well-established statistical principles.

If INEC’s official results fall within Yiaga Africa’s estimated range, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at polling units; however, if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the polling units’ results, Yiaga Africa will expose it.

The PVT is a component of Yiaga Africa’s comprehensive election observation methodology spanning the electoral cycle. Therefore, in assessing whether the 2021 Anambra governorship satisfies the electoral integrity test, Yiaga Africa will consider a range of issues such as shortcomings in the pre-election period, the quality of Election Day processes, and the scale and scope of critical incidents.




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