The TAF-Africa has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security operatives to checkmate voter inducement and violence in polling units during elections in Nigeria.
Jake Epelle, TAF Africa founder, said this when he addressed a post-election conference in Kogi. He expressed satisfaction with INEC’s organisation of the November 11 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi.
“This call became imperative following the inducement and pockets of violence that occurred Saturday’s off-cycle governorship election in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi, which put PWDs voters at risk,” stated Mr Epelle. “TAF Africa notes with concern the recorded incident of PWD voter inducement in the off-cycle election, especially in St. Luke Secondary School, Lokoja, and Agudama Epie polling unit, Epie ward 1, Yenagoa LGA of Bayelsa state, some party agents engaged in vote buying, thereby causing chaos and disorderliness in the polling units.”
He noted that this “challenges the integrity of the electoral process and emphasizes the need for heightened vigilance and enforcement of electoral laws to maintain a free and fair electoral environment in Nigeria” in the future.
Mr Epelle added that “a critical incident occurred in Dimoma Hall Amambaa polling unit, Ikeduru LGA, in Imo state, where gunmen dispersed voters and put PWDs voters at risk.”
“TAF Africa condemns any form of violence that disrupts the democratic process, and we call on security agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident and take necessary actions to ensure the confidence, safety, and security of voters in subsequent elections,” Mr Epelle explained.
He advocated for continuous collaboration and engagement between INEC, political parties, security agencies, PWDs, and civil society organisations to help identify and resolve challenges, promoting a more inclusive and accessible electoral process.
While urging INEC to provide more data on registered PWDs voters for expansion of its monitoring of voting points during election, Mr Epelle called for a standardised protocol for deployment of assistive tools, ensuring equitable distribution across all states and polling units with registered persons with disabilities during elections.