FINAL STATEMENT ON OBSERVATION OF THE ANAMBRA STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION HELD ON 6TH NOVEMBER 2021 BY CENTRE FOR TRANSPARENCY ADVOCACY

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  • FINAL STATEMENT ON OBSERVATION OF THE ANAMBRA STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION HELD ON 6TH NOVEMBER 2021 BY CENTRE FOR TRANSPARENCY ADVOCACY

Issued: 5pm 19/11/2021 

Preamble:

Amid
tensed situation and uncertainties that pervaded the environment before
November 6,2021, it was not certain that the governorship election will hold
despite several assurances by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The election which started on November 6, 2021, was eventually concluded on
Tuesday 9th of November 2021, due to the postponement of election in
Ihiala Local Government Area. Professor Chukwuma Soludo of the All-Progressive
Grand Alliance (APGA) was declared winner and returned as elected by the
Returning Officer Professor Florence Obi. It is important to note that out of
about 2.5 million registered voters in Anambra State, less than 12 % of the
voters came out to vote.

The
Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) deployed 64 election observers. Our final
observation statement is as follows-

Time of arrival of INEC
Officials and materials

As noted in our preliminary report, on the average, reports
from our observers deployed to the field indicated that polling units opened at
8.30 am. INEC Officials and materials in most places arrived as early as 7.30
am. There were however some exceptions where officials and materials arrived
after 8.30am. Equally, materials arrived late, and voting did not commence on
schedule in Ihiala on Tuesday 9/11/2021.

There were reported skirmishes between security agencies with
elements opposed to the election in Ihiala leading to the delays and no
elections in some communities like Luli, Orsumohu among others.

Generally, CTA noted that it is believed that the fear resulting
from threats by criminal gangs and the IPOB declaration of sit at home was
responsible for some of the delays and citizen’s apprehension towards the
election.

Time of commencement of
accreditation and voting

Most of the reports from our observers indicated that on the
average voter accreditation and voting commenced between 8.30am and 10.00am.
This is without prejudice to the few exceptions where voter accreditation and
voting started later than 10am. However, this was not the case in the
rescheduled Ihiala election were accreditation and voting started in some places
in the afternoon.

Deployment of Technology

Our observers reported cases of malfunction of the BVAS which
was largely due to network and operational issues. We noted that at some point
when voters were advised to smile or change positions so that people behind
them were not captured, the BVAS functioned better. Our observers reported that
the BVAS functioned better at the rescheduled Ihiala election. This could be
attributed to the fact that INEC officials took note of the earlier technical
issues and rectified them before deploying to Ihiala.

Performance/Conduct of
INEC Officials

CTA notes that in this election, INEC has demonstrated its
capacity to incrementally improve the election management process in the
country. Our observers reported marked improvement in the performance of INEC
officials during the election. Observers also noted the cooperation extended to
election observers.However, it was noted that many of the ad hoc staff were not
used to the BVAS and were unable to handle the device to promptly aid
accreditation.

Time of arrival and
Conduct of Security Agents

Generally, the security agents arrived on time. In many of
the polling units, our observers reported security agents arriving before the
commencement of the accreditation and voting.

On the average there were 4-5 security agents per polling
unit. However, while moving round, our observers reported effective security
cordon on the state pointing that all major roads had checkpoints and noted
that as of 4.00pm on polling day, the security agents at the checkpoints were
professional discharging their duties effectively. Same scenario was replicated
in Ihiala during the rescheduled election on 9/11/2021.

Voter turnout

Despite the fear of violence occasioned by the declaration of
sit at home by IPOB before the election, voter turnout was largely impressive.
We therefore commend the electorate for their courage and determination in
turning out despite all odds to exercise their franchise. However, CTA noted
that voter turnout in Anambra State has progressively retrogressed at each
election. The voter turnout in this election was abysmally low where less than
12 % of the registered voters came out to vote.

Conduct of Political
Parties/Voters (Vote buying and vote selling)

Our observer reports indicated that in many of the polling
units, vote buying was becoming more brazen and was a major feature of this
election. INEC, the Security Agencies, and other stakeholders need to work out
measures to effectively address this ugly phenomenon. There were 18 political
parties fielding candidates but at the polling units, there were between 2-5
political parties whose agents were present. It must be pointed out that our
observers reported that to ensure that security personnel at the booths did not
disturb their vote buying, provisions were made for them (Security Agents) and
they received money and allowed the crime to go on freely. At Awka Ward 7, PU
001 and 002 the security personnel (Police and Civil Defence) were called
together and given money which they received and shared peacefully. However, at
Ward 01, Agu Awka, PU 008 Arroma junction 1, quarrel ensued nearing fisticuffs
between the Police and Civil Defence personnel on the sharing formula. Indeed,
it was a very embarrassing sight.

Observer Groups

CTA commends especially, the Domestic Observer Groups that
deployed hundreds of field observers on the election day despite the fears and
uncertainties. The different observer groups like CTA before the election had
engaged stakeholder’s, security agencies and INEC in different forums in
preparation towards a peaceful and credible election. The role of election
observers is critical in the electoral process leading to innovations and
positive changes in election management.

Conclusion

It is believed that the outcome of the election reflected the
wishes of the people of Anambra State.CTA, therefore, Congratulates the people
of Anambra State.

Finally, we commend INEC and all stakeholders for ensuring a
free, fair, and credible election so far. The extension of time of voting to
4pm by INEC due to malfunctioning of the BVAS in some centres and the
rescheduling of the election in Ihiala to Tuesday 9/11/2021 to ensure every
voter that turned out cast their votes is quite commendable. We urge the
Commission to note the several reasons why the BVAS malfunctioned and take
steps to improve the performance in subsequent elections.

Faith Nwadishi

Executive
Director CTA

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