The Centre for Democracy and Development, one of the election observers in the Ondo State governorship election, has revealed the incidence of vote buying at the poll.
In its preliminary report released on Saturday, the group said political parties allocated between N150,000 and N600,000 for vote buying per polling unit.
Condemning the perpetrators of the crime, the CDD noted that its observers reported that unlike in the past when the money was shared around the polling units, the parties for this election assigned a neutral person to lead voters discreetly to an outpost to be paid.
CDD Director, Mrs Idayat Hassan, who presented the centre’s report at a news conference in Akure, added that card readers also failed in some units in Ilaje, Odigbo, Ese Odo and Idanre local government areas.
Hassan, however, commended voters’ turnout and the Independent National Electoral Commission for timely arrival of election materials and electoral officials in most polling units monitored.
She said, “Our observers documented instances in which voters revolted against political actors trying to induce them to sell their vote.
This was documented in Idanre (Ward 3, Polling Unit 6; Ward 8, PU 1, 2 and 3; and Ward 5 PU 1). In all those cases, voters insisted they wished to vote for a candidate of their choice.
“Notwithstanding, we observed a consistent pattern of vote buying, wherein those engaged in this electoral offence adopted tactics to induce voters, while evading the watch of security officials and election observers.
“Our observers documented attempts by political actors to outspend one another by making available large sums of money disbursed to community leaders for onward distribution to voters. CDD observation showed that where in the past the modus operandi was to distribute cash discreetly at points close to the polling unit, the new found tactic is to create outposts where voters can go to collect cash after providing proof they voted for the party buying their votes.
“Other vote buying trends as highlighted in the preliminary report include earmarking of bulk sums ranging from N150,000 to N600,000 for each polling unit across the local government area. The group said during the election, the monies were distributed to popular figures, especially leaders of youth groups to share to voters in their areas.”
If RAC techs are chased out of the polling units and prevented from carrying out their duties, it compromises the transparency of the process because the uploading of results unto the INEC Results Viewing Platform.
“Preventing them from doing their duty also creates problems in the area of maintaining card readers, which develop fault in the course of the election. These and similar incidents occurred in Ward 05, PU 008, Odigbo LGA, Arogbo II, PU 001, Ward 7, Ese Odo LGA, Ward 06, PU 007, Ward 02 PU 16 in Idanre LGA, and Ward 4 PU 09, 11, 12 and 13, Ilaje LGA,” Hassan added.
Despite the challenges encountered in the process, the centre observers documented cases in which voters insisted on going ahead with the process in the rain.
“In Ose LGA, despite the heavy rainfall, voters defied the weather to exercise their franchise. In Akure North LGA, materials arrived on time, but the rain held up the process, and officials attempted to move voting to an enclosed space.
“This move was however resisted by voters. CDD commends the resilient disposition of voters and their resolve to protect the sanctity of the poll,” the centre noted.