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Ondo polls: INEC at last applauded for free, fair election

The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] has finally received a pat on the back from election observers after the Ondo State gubernatorial election of November 26, 2016.

The well-done pat came from the transition Monitoring Group [TMG] on Sunday after the Ondo polls.

TMG applauded INEC during a press release issued by the Chairperson, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi.

According to Dr Akiyode-Afolabi, “the election was generally peaceful, orderly, well-organised, and well-conducted.”

He cited the principal positive highlights in respect of the Ondo election as:

– Security was adequate, and in most places provided the confidence that most voters required to come out to vote.

– The counting of votes and declaration of results proceeded peacefully and witnessed no significant disruption.

TMG, however, lamented several of the old challenges and malpractices that have featured in INEC elections since 1999, saying they were again present in this election.  

These include the:

– Late arrival of election officials and materials at few polling units, resulting in the late commencement of the various phases of the election process, contributing to voters’ apprehension

– Difficulties in the accreditation of some registered voters due to malfunctioning of smart card readers and dislocation of polling units

– Allegation of buying of votes and other attempts to unduly influence voters

– Attempt to disrupt voting process by unidentified persons and political party agents in some places

All notwithstanding, TMG adjudged these challenges and malpractices as relatively low and had no significant adverse effect on the process and outcome of the election.

On security, the group said that “security was generally adequate and in fact very substantial, with the military providing security on roads into and within most major towns and the Nigeria Police Force and the Civil Defence Corps providing security at the polling stations.

“The substantial security presence seemed overall to have provided the confidence that voters needed in most areas to exercise their franchise without fear of intimidation or violence.  

Commenting on voter turnout, TMG noted that Ondo voter turnout was large at most of the polling units observed.  

Voters (both male and female) had arrived at most polling stations as early as 7.00am and were in their hundreds at most of the polling units.

TMG also commended INEC on the voting, vote counting, and result declaration processes which it said seemed generally to have proceeded undisturbed.  

In conclusion, the TMG was of the preliminary opinion that the Ondo State gubernatorial election of November 26, 2016 was generally well executed.

It noted that the lapses witnessed, while disturbing, did not significantly affect its outcome, hence, passing kudos to INEC.

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