The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is facing criticism following the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Imo states. The elections, held on November 11, were marred by allegations of irregularities, violence, and the suspension of voting in some local government areas in Kogi State.
Critics have raised concerns about the credibility and transparency of the elections, pointing to incidents of vote-buying, intimidation, and the power of incumbency. In Kogi State, INEC suspended voting in a few local governments to address credibility issues but ultimately declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Usman Ododo, as the winner.
Accusations of pre-recorded result sheets surfaced in Kogi State, with an observer from YIAGA Africa raising the alarm about the proliferation of pre-filled result sheets in a particular polling unit. Former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Segun Sowunmi, expressed disappointment in INEC’s failure to rebuild trust among Nigerians.
The elections highlighted ongoing challenges in Nigeria’s electoral process, including issues of crime, ballot box snatching, and the need for improved security measures. Critics are calling for a review of the judiciary’s code of conduct to avoid contradictory judgments in different regions.
The outcome of the off-cycle elections has reignited concerns about the overall state of democracy in Nigeria, with calls for comprehensive reforms to address systemic issues and restore confidence in the electoral process.