The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) said on Saturday it observed a trend of vote-buying in the Ondo State governorship election.
It, however, reported a positive development of many voters pushing back against vote-buying.
In its preliminary statement on the conduct of the election, the CDD noted that there was a consistent pattern of vote-buying, where those engaged in the act adopted tactics to induce voters, while evading the watch of security officials and election observers.
“CDD observers documented attempts by political actors to outspend one another by making available large sums disbursed to community leaders for onward distribution to voters,” the report which was read by its director, Idayat Hassan, said.
“CDD observation showed that where in the past the modus operandi has been to distribute cash discreetly at points close to the polling unit, the new tactic is to create outposts where voters can go to collect cash after showing evidence that they voted for the party.
“In Ondo governorship election, there was the trend wherein bulk sums ranging from N150,000 to N600,000 were earmarked for each polling unit across the LGA and handed over to popular figures, especially youth groups to share to voters in their areas.”
CDD also noticed another tactic of electronic transfer of money to voters after proving that he or she voted for the relevant party.
“Our observers reported that party agents largely stayed away from coordinating vote-buying,” the report stated.
“In ward 11, Polling Unit 021, Akure South LGA, CDD observed that political parties designated someone, who is not a party agent, but appears to be neutral to direct voters to an outpost where cash could be distributed.
“In several instances, disagreement between vote buyers and sellers caused altercation.
“CDD observers reported tension at One Aro, Polling Unit 6, When the money for the vote-buying did not go round, thereby upsetting a voter who had cast his ballot for the buying party.
“In Polling Unit 005, Akoko South, observers reported party agents openly inducing voters. CDD observers similarly noted instances where voters on their own displayed their ballots to assure a particular party agent they have cast their ballot for the party.”
CDD also stated that there were breaches of the COVID-19 protocols as some voters used face masks while many others did not.
It also observed the absence of a two-tier queue system across the polling units.
“CDD has reached the conclusion that the blatant disregard for COVID-prevention protocol is a sectoral problem caused by the belief that the virus should not be as dreaded as it has been said to be,” the group said.
“This resulted in general non-compliance to key protocols for preventing further spread of the novel coronavirus. In exceptional cases where compliance was observed, it was limited mainly to the wearing of face masks.”
On violence, CDD noted that there were pockets of violence during the election.
“For instance, CDD observers reported an outbreak of violence in Ijomu Polling Unit 7, where a voter was attacked with a machete and badly cut before law enforcement agents arrived at the scene,” the report said.
“The bigger problem with respect with this particular incident is that law enforcement officers did not attempt to fish out and bring the perpetrators of that particular attack to book.”
The police have since said the injured man is receiving treatment at the hospital and has named his attackers who are now being hunted by the police.
CDD, however, commended INEC for improvements in the deployment of logistics and the timely arrival of materials to polling units.
Another civil society organisation, YIAGA, also observed the noncompliance with the COVID-19 protocols.
The group also commended INEC for improving on the Edo election with what took place on Saturday.