Political Campaigns and Rallies in Kogi state have been trailed by Violence and large scale of vote buying by the various political parties in the state.
According to an initial observation finding by YIAGA Africa, a non- partisan organisation monitoring the process, “Political campaigns and rallies in Kogi State were trailed with brigandage, assault and all forms of violence” the statement issued reads in parts.
In a joint statement signed by Mr Samson Itodo, the Executive Director and made available to NewsWireNGR, “reports of violent physical attacks of rallies/meetings or campaign trails were observed in several part of the especially Yagba West. Intimidation of candidates/supporters were also reported in Ankpa, Dekina, Idah and Ofu LGAs”.
The group said the Campaigns have so far been “driven by money not issues”.
Mr Itodo and other members of the team involved in the monitoring of the elections with YIAGA’s Watching the Votes in the joint statement noted that, “the campaigns have been devoid of debates on governance, public leadership and quality representation. The campaigns have been a contest between the highest bidder and spender”.
The statement continued, “WTV monitored and tracked voter inducement through the distribution of money or gift items and other suspicious empowerment programs. Political party candidates and supporters were visibly doling out money and gift items such as vehicles in several communities especially in Okehi and Ankpa LGA during political campaigns”.
YIAGA AFRICA also said, it observed political parties moving from house to house in Ankpa LGA, documenting names and polling unit numbers and addresses of citizens with PVCs, while offering advance payments of Five hundred naira (N500) ahead of the election.
“This may result to financially induced voter turnout and not issued-based electoral participation”, the statement reads in parts. ?
YIAGA Africa’s, Watching The Vote, deployed a Pre-Election Observation (PREO) mission to Kogi from September 19, 2019, to observe the pre-election environment.
27 Long Term Observers were deployed to all 21 LGAs to observe the pre-election environment over a period of eight weeks.
Meanwhile, the group also raised concerns about the displacement of voters due to flooding across rhe state.
“YIAGA AFRICA pre-election observation reports highlighted the plight voters in flooded communities”
The democracy group said it is “concerned that if adequate provision is not made for communities experiencing flooding, it may lead to disenfranchisement or voter suppression”.
“YIAGA AFRICA notes that in places where INEC has made provisions, there is a lack of clarity on the modalities for determining where polling units and collation centres will be located. – We fear that this might be subject to manipulation and it could trigger violence”
YIAGA AFRICA has however called on INEC to quickly finalize and popularize plans on conducting elections in flooded communities in Ibaji, Koton Kafe, Lokoja, Ofu, Ajaokuta, Omala and Idah LGAs. ?
On November 16, 2019, the people of Kogi state will go to the polls to elect a Governor in what promises to be a keenly contested election with 24 political parties jostling for the votes of 1,646,350 registered voters.
The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate is incumbent governor Yahaya Bello, while the People’s Democratic Party candidate is Musa Wada, the son to the former governor of the state.