The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on Saturday said that its field observers documented 41 instances of vote-buying and selling at polling units across six Local Government Areas (LGAs) during the governorship election in Ekiti state.
The Chairman of CDD’s Election Analysis Centre (EAC), Adele Jinadu, revealed the development on Saturday evening at a preliminary briefing of journalists in Abuja on the conduct of the governorship election.
An unverified video posted on social media showed operatives of the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) raiding a building and arresting some people accused of distributing money to voters with the intent to sway their support.
The armed operatives were seen in the video displacing a list of votes from a particular ward and some money in an envelope being shared to votes by party agents.
No particular political party was mentioned in the video, which is already generating comments from the public.
However, at a briefing in Abuja, the civil society group said the cases of vote buying were recorded at Ado-Ekiti, Ijero, Ikole Irepodun/Ifelodun, Ise/Orun and Moba LGAs of Ekiti.
Jinadu said vote-buying took the patterns of cash collection in brown envelopes to disguise the content in order to avoid arrest by the anti-corruption agencies.
The CDD-EAC Chair stated that in some cases were young voters who openly displayed their money, explaining that the universities strike influenced some of them to perceive the election as an opportunity to solve their economic challenges.
”CDD-EAC observers documented 41 instances of vote-buying and selling at Polling Units. Observer data showed incidents of vote-buying and selling in LGAs like Ado-Ekiti, Ijero, Ikole Irepodun/Ifelodun, Ise/Orun and Moba.
“One of the observable patterns of vote-buying was the collection of cash in brown envelopes, which was apparently meant to disguise the content of the envelopes in order to avoid arrest by the anti-corruption agencies.
“CDD-EAC observers also documented instances where young voters openly displayed the cash given to them to buy their votes. These anomalies confirm CDD-EAC observation in the pre-election period that the ongoing strike by universities has grounded the local economy.
“The situation has in turn influenced a number of young voters to perceive the election as an opportunity to solve their economic challenges by accepting inducement from political actors,” he said.
The organisation, however, commended the arrest of some political actors who were alleged to be involved in vote trading in the course of the election.
“CDD-EAC calls for a thorough investigation of these persons, and their subsequent prosecution, if found culpable,” he added.
Jinadu also disclosed that the CDD-EAC Fake News Hub tracked and fact-checked a number of fake news and misinformation trends on social media during the election.
According to him, “A major trending item was the purported withdrawal letter of the SDP candidate Segun Oni, and his endorsement of the PDP candidate, which circulated across social media. This claim was subsequently confirmed to be ‘false’.
“Another claim on Twitter was that 9 million voters were expected to vote in the Ekiti 2022 gubernatorial election. This claim was checked by CDD-EAC fact-checkers, who returned a verdict of ‘false’ for the claim. CDD checks further showed that there are 988,923 voters registered by INEC for the Ekiti Governorship election.
“Another fake news was tracked relating to claims that in Ido/Osi soldiers were preventing voters from going to their polling units. CDD-EAC fact checkers verified this claim from field observers and found it to be false.”
While stating that the general atmosphere of the election was peaceful, the CDD noted that the conduct of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed some progress in terms of the administration.
It, however, added that there remained several areas of concern, which call for stronger management of elections.