- Says Political Thugs, Cult Groups May Threaten Peaceful Poll
A leading election observer group, Yiaga Africa, has identified what it described as early signs of violence that might threaten the peaceful conduct of the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the State of Osun.
According to Yiaga Africa, the election might be threatened by activities of political thugs and cult groups.
This was contained in Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote Pre-election observation report for the Osun governorship election which was obtained by OSUN DEFENDER yesterday.
Long Term Observers, according to the group, were deployed to all 30 Local Government Areas of the State to assess preparatory activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards the election, security planning, activities of election stakeholders, campaigns and activities of political parties, and voter education in the state and violence monitoring.
According to the report, Yiaga Africa’s Long Term Observers tracked and reported activities that could affect the planning and peaceful conduct of the election.
Some of the activities reported are violent physical attacks during political party meetings and campaigns and vandalism of campaign billboards.
Yiaga Africa said it specifically received reports of political thugs attacking a rally of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leaders during a meeting on May 7, 2022 in Ede South local government.
The group said it also received reports of supporters of All Progressives Congress (APC) being attacked after a rally in Gbongan, Ayedaade local government on May 23, 2022.
It also noted that some politicians were engaging the services of cult groups during rallies or campaign trains in Ilesa West local government.
Other early warning signs of electoral violence, according to Yiaga Africa, include vandalism or the destruction of billboards belonging to political party opponents.
“This was majorly recorded at Itakogun street, Ward 1, Ilesa West local government, on May 10, 2022”, said the group.
Similarly, the organisation also tracked voter inducement in the form of distribution of money and gift items to voters and the purchase of Permanent Voter Cards in Atakumosa West local government.
It said: “Long Term Observers witnessed and heard of the distribution of money and food items by candidates or their supporters while campaigning in Boluwaduro, Ejigbo, Ife North, Ifedayo, Ilesa East, Ilesa West Irepodun, Isokan, Odon-Otin and Orolu local governments.
“Also, politicians distributed food items like rice, beans, garri, and semolina; and money ranging between N2,000 and N5,000 per voter”.
Yiaga Africa also lamented that poorly targeted voter education will impact the participation of marginalised group in the Osun election.
“The report says, “beyond the politics of the parties, is the role of women and the near absence of women candidates in the governorship race, with no female candidate for the office of the governor and only six female deputy governorship candidates.”