Rights groups hail INEC, Ekiti people for peaceful election

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has been commended for conducting a peaceful and violence-free election held on June 18 for the Ekiti State governorship race.

According to the Nigerian Human Rights Community, and the Civil Society Coalition for Mandate Protection, the June 18 election was the most peaceful in recent elections held in Ekiti State and one of the best held in Nigeria.

The groups said technical areas of improvements in democratic culture that deepen democracy during the June 18 election should not be overshadowed by the few low points of the election.

The statement reads, “In the face of hitches, the June 18, 2022 election was a milestone. The incumbent Government sustained a conducive, peaceful environment, INEC was able to avoid technical hitches, the election materials arrived early, non-sensitive materials were deployed without hitches, no snatching of ballot papers and no ballot stuffing while the ad hoc and INEC staff conducted the election with the highest sense of responsibility. On election day, no death was recorded.”

The groups in the report signed by its officials, Fred Ojinika, Kudu Abubakar and Samuel Omotoyinbo said the outcome of the election reflected the aspirations of most of the registered voters in Ekiti State.

According to the groups, there was significant progress made by the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the people of Ekiti State compared with previous elections.

“The election materials arrived early enough in almost all the 2,445 polling units across the 16 Local Governments and 19 Local Council Development Areas. In all the 2,445 polling booths, there were reports of non availability of ink in only three of them, as observed by NHRC, which the INEC officials and ad hoc staff improvised by using ink from pen.

“This did not in any way affect the ability of voters to choose their candidates on the ballots,” the groups which deployed 356 observers across the state said in its preliminary findings.

In previous elections, the NHRC and the CSC-MAP said Ekiti had dominated national discourse for the wrong reason adding that since 2007, elections in Ekiti have been characterised by violence.

“In 2007, some people were either killed or maimed. In 2014, the then incumbent State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi was nearly killed when a civilian not too far from him was shot by a police officer sent from Abuja by the then Peoples Democratic Party controlled Federal Government. In 2019, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi also of the All Progressives Congress, was shot and wounded.”

The group said the 2022 June 18 election was a complete departure from the ugly past.

It said, “There was no single incidence of violence and bloodletting, abduction, ballot snatching or killing on the day of the election. There was however the murder of a citizen few days before the election, an act allegedly traced to the Civil Defense Official protecting a chieftain of the Social Democratic Party.”

The group said the Ekiti State Government also did not deploy Amotekun to be involved in the electoral process which remains a significant step by keeping the state security outfit from the platform of internal politics.

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