The off-season governorship elections conducted yesterday in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states were marred by low turnout, vote-buying and pockets of violence.
This was despite the huge deployment of security agencies, as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
EFCC operatives arrested 14 suspected vote buyers in Otueke, Adawari playgrounds in Bayelsa and at various polling units in Imo and Kogi.
The spokesperson of the commission, Dele Oyewale, in a statement, noted that the suspects were arrested in intelligence-driven operations that commenced several days before the ongoing governorship elections in the three states.
“Also, a total sum of N11,040,000, comprising N9,310,00 intercepted from suspected vote buyers and sellers in Bayelsa, and N1,730,000 intercepted from electoral fraud suspects across Imo State, were recovered from them.
“Also, two vehicles were intercepted from the suspects. They will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), in its preliminary report, highlighted factors it said undermined the elections in the three states.
It said its Election Analysis Centre (CDD-EAC), chaired by Professor Adele Jinadu, observed the off-cycle elections in the states through the over 150 fact-checkers and observers deployed to monitor the polls.
Jinadu explained how delays in voting and deployment challenges, election irregularities, election violence, disinformation, BVAS functionality and vote-buying and trading characterised the elections generally across the three states.
On his part, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) said despite the pockets of glitches and violence recorded in the off-circle polls, the INEC and the security agencies played their parts towards the successful conduct of the elections so far.
In its preliminary report signed by its chairman, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the TMG said its observers reported adequate deployment and functionality of BVAS across polling units in the three states of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi and that security official conducted themselves “in a very civil and professional manner.”
He said they observed “pockets of violence in few of the polling units observed across the states. “Political thugs were reportedly killed by the military in Ayingba and Idah town in Ida Local Government Area of Kogi State. He said vote trading was observed across the states, with politicians seen “doling out cash gifts ranging from N5,000 to N30,000, food items and clothing materials (wrappers) in some of the polling units observed.”