Monitoring report of the Akoko-Edo Constituency 1 re-election, 22 August, 2009

Monitoring report of the Akoko-Edo Constituency 1 re-election, 22 August, 2009
Election background
Following investigations by the Electoral Tribunal the election said to have been won by Mr. Anslem Agbabi (PDP) on 14 April, 2007 for the Akoko-Edo state assembly seat was annulled by the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City due to irregularities and procedures not conforming to the Electoral Act. The seat was declared vacant and the court ordered a re-run of the election. Anslem Agabi was allowed leave to contest the re-run. He had Anslem Agabi had represented the constituency for six years in the state assembly – that is for a first term of four years and another two years of his second term prior to the annulment by the court.
The re-election took place on August 22, 2009 in the five wards of the constituency. The elections were conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with the following candidates on the ballot paper:
• Prince Adjotu Kabiru (Action Congress)
• Mr. Anslem Agbabi (Peoples Democratic Party)
• Mr. Agbaje Daniel (All Nigerian Peoples Party)
• Mr. Olaniyi Salami (Progressive Peoples Party)
As at the date of the election, PDP holds 13 seats in the Edo Assembly while AC has 10 and made the election crucial for both parties; the seat was keenly contested during the 45 day campaign, with the PDP battling to hold its majority advantage and the AC keen to narrow the gap in the legislature.
At the INEC stakeholder meeting conducted four days prior to the election the coalition announced the monitoring project. In addition the coalition held press briefs and TV interviews to encourage free and fair elections and called for the vigilance of INEC and the security forces to prevent any fraudulent actions by any party.
Polling day, 22 August 2009.
Monitoring team
The Monitoring team comprised Civil Society Organisations drawn from Non Government, Organisations, Faith Based Organisations, Labour and the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Edo State Council (the umbrella body of all practicing journalists in Edo State). All came together to form the coalition that constituted the monitoring team.
The task of the monitors covered the five wards of Akoko-Edo constituency 1 and the 74 polling units. The monitoring team consisted of 20 persons who moved from station to station and the Constituency Collation Centre throughout the day. Additional support was provided by media representatives who numbered over 40. The monitors were duly accredited by INEC, who provided all necessary materials to enable a successful monitoring exercise.
Recommendation: While the exercise was necessary and deemed somewhat successful, improvements can be made. Modalities in monitoring, reporting and verification should be agreed to ensure consistency in procedures. INEC should consider budgeting for independent monitoring groups which should be in place for all elections.
Peter Ogboi, the Police Public Relations Officer, Edo State Command, said that 2,000 policemen were deployed in the Akoko-Edo Local Government Area. While it was not possible to ascertain the number of policemen on the ground, stationary regular police (without arms) and armed mobile policemen were seen at the polling stations. Also, there were road blocks manned by mobile policemen and patrols by Anti-Crime and Operation Thunderstorm Police Units.
No security agents were found interfering with electoral proceedings, even though they maintained heavy presence at the polling units. The police and the SSS should be commended for putting adequate security preparations on the ground.
Recommendation: The security services were efficient in the delivery of their responsibilities and this is an example to be followed in future elections.
There were sufficient voting materials at all of the polling units; in three units (of the 74) there were complaints by some voters who did not find their names in the registers. Affected areas included Eresha Primary School (Unit 4), Agbala’s Compound (Unit 5) and Ileteju Primary School (Unit 6), all in Makeke/Damgbala/Ojah/Ojerami Ward 5. There was no sign of INEC involvement in favouring any candidate.
Recommendation: INEC, civil society organisations, the media, the National Orientation Agency, etc need to embark on massive voter education on the dos and don’ts during election and how to correctly complete ballot papers before elections.
Party Agents
It was observed that there was no altercation between the party agents and the agents and INEC, and any issues were resolved in an equitable manner with the cooperation of the security forces. For example a situation in Ward 3/Unit 4 in Aforo Quarters where the PDP and AC agents on the identification of unofficial persons were then escorted peacefully away from the polling station.
Recommendation: Existing inter-party as well as inter-party candidate relationship at Ward 3/Unit 4 election is commendable and worthy of emulation in elections and at all political levels. Elections should not be seen as a do-or-die affair.
Voters Turnout
10,273 voters cast their votes in a turnout that was generally peaceful and relaxed. In some places they stood on queues. In others, they milled in semi circles around INEC officials, peacefully. A number of persons actually stated that this was the first time they had voted. This may account for the high number of spoilt papers. There were a number of issues regarding the confidentiality of some of the polling booths.
Recommendation: There is a need to educate voters on polling procedures and how to complete the ballot paper correctly. The queue culture is more orderly and organized and should be stipulated for all future elections. Polling booths need to be secured correctly to ensure voter confidentiality.
Akoko-Edo Constituency 1 re-election, 22 August, 2009 results
WARD Registered voters Total votes Percentage turnout PDP AC ANPP PPP Spoilt papers
3 3,947 1,954* 49.5% * 1,066 638 ** ** 250
4 3,834 2,223* 57.9%* 710 1,168 ** ** 345
5 4,378 1,486* 33.9%* 383 917 ** ** 186
6 4,471 1,893* 42.3%* 472 1,187 ** ** 234
7 8,748 2,717* 31%* 1,006 1,435 ** ** 276
TOTAL 25,378 10, 286 40.5% 3,637 5,345 7 6 1,291
Source: INEC
*excluding ANPP and PPP
** Information not provided
Electoral violence?
In Osi Quarters of Aiyegunle our monitors heard gunshots fired by unknown persons. We have not been able to ascertain those who fired the gun shots. This created tension; security men were able to bring the situation under control and voting continued.
The monitoring exercise was undertaken in an open and transparent manner with no political influence exerted on the activities of the monitoring team or in the drafting of this report.
While it cannot be said that this was a perfect election the monitoring team are satisfied that by and large voters were allowed to cast their votes for their preferred candidate.
Improvements need to be made in voter registration and procedures (filling in ballot papers, etc.), and in completely securing the polling stations. A comprehensive programme should be conducted by the INEC in this regard.
The monitoring team are satisfied that the result of this election should stand as a fair reflection of the choice of the voters.
Rev. David Ugolor
Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ)
For Civil Society

Comrade Friday Obanor
Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council

Wednesday, 26 August 2009