The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has blamed low turn of electorate during Saturday’s Governorship and House of Assembly polls across the country on “militarisation and over policing” of voting process.
The National Chairperson of the group, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, stated this while giving a preliminary report of the polls at a news conference in Abeokuta on Saturday.
According to her, the report is based on information received from TMG observation operations from about 4000 stationary and roving observers it trained and deployed across the nation.
She said information about heavy presence of military officials and policemen in parts of the country scared away many potential voters who opted to remain indoors.
While admitting that the development was necessitated by threats by some hoodlums to hijack the process in some states, the TMG insisted that the method has not helped the conduct of polls in Nigeria.
“The method of militarisation and over policing during our polls has never helped in flash point states like Rivers.
“Successful conduct of Polls in advanced countries are not necessarily result of over policing and militarisation.
“The problem is that we often choose to react to crimes rather than being proactive,” she said.
She, therefore, called on the leadership of the country to consider other ways of conducting peaceful polls without necessarily compromising or jeopardising large turn – out of voters.
Concerning logistics, the group commended INEC officials for setting out early and commencing voting process as scheduled in most states.
“Accreditation and voting commenced in most polling centres around 8a.m., as scheduled and polling officials conducted themselves professionally and were able to handle complaints effectively.
TMG which observed that electorate across the nation conducted themselves in peaceful manner also noted that security officials were cordial in the discharge of their responsibilities.
The group which reported incidences of vote buying and financial inducement of voters in states like Kwara, Ogun, Katsina and Adamawa, absolved INEC officials of complicity in such cases.
TMG expressed concern over reports of diversion of election materials in Benue where it also claimed that elections materials were snatched and INEC officials were held hostage.
The group noted that most of the flaws recorded were common feature of Nigeria’s polls.
It therefore called for a thorough audit of the entire electoral process with a view to addressing the observed flaws holistically for an improved conduct of polls in the future.