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Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 14:03 UK

Nigeria poll: A monitor's view

Election monitors from Nigeria and abroad have condemned last Saturday's presidential election as a "charade". Here, Emma Ezeazu from the Alliance for Credible Elections recounts his experience.

I was one of the roving monitors from the Transition Monitoring Group that observed elections in Nassarawa State (central Nigeria) during the governorship elections and in Kaduna State (north-western Nigeria) during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Emma Ezeazu
In places where the PDP wasn't in control, voting was delayed.
Emma Ezeazu

I heard about the violence in Nassarawa State. But our team had left before the violence actually started.

But while I was there, from early in the day, it was quite disappointing because hundreds and hundreds of people were already standing in long queues in Maraba and Keffi by 1000 [local time] but Inec [election commission] officials had yet to arrive.

Quite a number of those in the queue told us they weren't going anywhere until they voted.

We noticed that ballot papers were available in [ruling People's Democratic Party] PDP strongholds in the state and voting started in those areas on time.

But in places where the PDP wasn't in control, voting was delayed. That was our experience in Nassarawa State.

Intimidation

We also saw poor policing during the polls.

In one polling station in Keffi we saw a son of a particular chief harassing and intimidating voters using thugs to cause confusion on the queues.

He was trying to frighten people so they would leave the voting area so he could tamper with the result of the voting.

We also saw PDP agents virtually manning the polling bags.

Votes in
The polls were "a charade" said many groups of observers

I mean, people were forced to thumb-print in front of the PDP agents and then they took the ballot and put it in the ballot box. We found this very terrifying.

We also saw a group of under-aged voters who were being paid 50 naira [40 US cents] notes to vote for a particular party.

In this polling station, a primary school in Keffi, the PDP won. The children were happy with the 50 naira and were jumping and jubilant.

I didn't witness any ballot box-snatching or stuffing because I was a roving monitor.

Only my colleagues who were stationed in particular polling stations reported cases of ballot box-snatching and stuffing.

Resources

When we were going round for the presidential elections, we saw Inec officials without transport.

Inec officials were trekking long distances with ballot papers and ballot bags without any security at all to get to their assigned polling stations.

I thought this was instructive.

Here we were; a group of civil society monitors, we had our cars, we had our lunch packs, we had biscuits, we had water and we were comfortable.

pie chart

But here are electoral officers, who are doing the real job of the election, and they had no transport, no food, no security, nothing.

I looked at the electoral officials and I laughed because I knew there was no way workers who are so poorly motivated could produce any credible outputs.

They never had any breaks in the course of the work. There was no system at all available at all in terms of logistics.

We have reports of how our monitors were chased away from polling stations and how one of them was arrested and thrown into a police cell.

But I didn't have any such experience.

What made me to smile during the exercise was seeing so many ordinary Nigerians patiently queuing up in the sun, waiting for a chance to vote.

It made me smile because it made me hopeful that my country will be out of the woods eventually.




video and audio news
Controversy surrounding Nigeria's presidential poll



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