Yiaga Africa Identifies Gaps and Improvements in the Lagos Local Government Elections.

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Yiaga Africa, a non-governmental and non-profit organization, has released a summary of its findings following Saturday’s council elections in Lagos State’s 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).

The organization stated that it deployed trained, accredited roving observers under the moniker “Watching the Vote” (WTV) to monitor the process in all 57 of the state’s councils.

Yiaga Africa noted in a statement issued in Lagos on Saturday that while 15 political parties will contest the election, an average of three political parties were reported to be on the ballot papers for both the LGA/LCDA Chairman and Council elections.

According to a statement signed by the organization’s Director of Programs and Board Member, Cynthia Mbamalu and Eze Nwagwu, respectively, “While there was reasonable compliance with the state government’s no-movement directive, voter turnout was abysmally low across the LGAs/LCDAs, with voters absent in some polling units as of 11 a.m.”

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“The findings in this statement are based on information provided by WTV observers regarding set-up, voting, and accreditation at polling units.

“Late poll opening and deployment of polling materials: As of 8:30 a.m., Yiaga Africa WTV observers reported seeing no polling official in 61 of the polling units they visited. The late opening and commencement of polling stations was a common occurrence throughout the state.

“Mushin LGA, in particular, recorded a late deployment. By 8:16 a.m., election officials were still awaiting deployment to their assigned polling units. By 10:00 a.m., only 17 of the polling units visited had polling officials present and were nearing completion of the set-up necessary to begin the accreditation and voting process.

“Polling officials were deployed in the anticipated manner: As required by the LASIEC election guidelines, the majority of polling units visited had an average of two polling officials present. Additionally, women were deployed as polling officials; at least one out of every two polling officials was a woman.

“Election essential materials were deployed adequately: WTV monitored the presence of essential materials in polling units, including the voter register, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, ballot boxes, incident form, and polling unit booklet.

“These and numerous other materials were visible in the majority of the polling units that were opened. However, according to WTV observers, the majority of Smart Card Readers were not fully charged. Additionally, reports indicate that some polling units visited did not have Smart Card Readers.

“Security personnel deployment: WTV observed security officers from the Nigerian Police Force and/or the NSCDC in the majority of polling units visited. For example, WTV observed the presence of over ten security officials in Polling Unit 039 Wesley Primary School.

“Observers reported the presence of the Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corps in several polling units (LNSC). However, in Ward C Surulere and Lawanson, Mushin Local Government Area, the majority of Polling Units lacked security personnel as of 11 a.m. Additionally, a few security personnel were spotted on Lagos state’s streets.

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“The majority of political parties did not send party agents to the polls: only APC and PDP party agents were visible in the majority of polling units visited. In the majority of polling units visited, APC and PDP party agents were visible, while other party agents were visible in a few polling units.

“There was no strict adherence to the COVID-19 Protocol: While WTV observed the distribution of hand sanitizers and handheld infrared thermometers throughout the polling units, there was no enforcement of their use. Poll workers and voters failed to follow the COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical safety protocol and physical distancing.

“Misconduct at Polling Units: WTV observers reported that voters in a few polling units in Ward B Badagry LGA were intimidated, harassed, and assaulted during accreditation and voting.”

Yiaga Africa noted several reported critical incidents, including confusion over the ballot’s inclusion of a political party’s name. “In Shomolu LGA, there was violent disruption of the accreditation and voting processes across polling units; this was exacerbated by confusion over the inclusion of a party name on the ballot.

“On the ballot, the name YP was printed, which is not one of the legally recognized political parties. In a few of the polling units visited, supporters of the YPP protested their party’s omission from the ballot and urged voters to boycott the election.

“Attack on WTV Observer: In PU 008, Ward B Badagry, an observer was beaten for videotaping a party agent attempting to snatch a ballot box,” the statement read.

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