Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has said political parties used fake news to delegitimise the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the electoral process during Saturday’s election in Kogi State.
Director of CDD, Ms Idayat Hassan, in the group’s preliminary statement on the conduct of Saturday’s Kogi governorship election, said the electoral environment observation report had previously predicted that political parties would use fake news during the election to cause confusion.
“Some of the fake news circulated today include the disqualification of the PDP candidates, false results, fake images of thugs arrested and snatching of ballot papers.
“CDD fact-checkers were able to debunk most of the fake news.
“The hoaxes are mainly intended at delegitimising INEC and the process.
“Again, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are the leading platforms used to spread disinformation. “
Hassan said that earlier, voters across 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi went to the poll to elect a governor; and in Kogi West, a rescheduled senatorial election also got underway following a court verdict.
She said that at the CDD Election Analysis Centre, reports have been coming from trained and accredited observers deployed across the 21 LGAs of the state, adding that the preliminary statement was an overview of the initial findings on the conduct of the election.
Hassan said that CDD observed use of financial inducements to affect the outcome of the election. She also stated that CDD observed systematic and coordinated violent attacks at polling units and carting away of voting materials.
According to their observations, observers and journalists were blocked from access and taking photographs in what appeared to be an attempt to prevent gathering of evidence of electoral malpractices in many polling units.
The CDD director noted that the use of violence in the campaign and open threats of more violence in the election appeared to be a voter suppression strategy which played out on Saturday.
Furthermore, she said CDD EAC observers reported coordinated disruption of voting across many polling units, with hired thugs invading polling units, shooting to scare away voters, and in several cases carting away voting materials.
“In polling unit 001 in Ward 4, Dekina LGA, CDD observers reported gunfire, violent caused by rival party thugs who battled one other over control of the polling environment.
“These were in Felele and Ganaja areas of Lokoja LGA, especially in Registration Area 08, Oworo, Felele Area, PU 004, in Ankpa 1 Polling Unit with number 2203-04-0 in Ankpa LGA,” she said
Hassan said notwithstanding the fact that INEC enlisted EFCC and ICPC’s support in curtailing vote-buying, vote-buying was very rampant across the state.
She said that CDD observers reported that party agents in several polling units engaged in the financial inducement of voters to influence them to vote for their parties, giving them between N500 and N3,000.
Speaking on INEC’s performance, she said as at 11 a.m, accreditation and voting had started in 55.1 per cent of polling units in which CDD deployed observers in Kogi.
Further information revealed that a good number of INEC ad hoc staff were knowledgeable and familiar with the operation of the smart card readers in some of the polling units observed, she added.
On the late delivery of materials experienced in some parts of the state, Hassan said it was primarily due to logistics challenge and deplorable state of infrastructures like bad roads and difficult terrains experienced in the deployment of electoral materials.