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Kogi poll credible, say observer groups

From James Azania, Lokoja
The Coalition of Civil Society Groups accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the Kogi State governorship and Kogi West Senatorial re-run have condemned calls for the cancellation of last Saturday’s exercise.
The coalition, at a post-election press conference in Lokoja, noted that the pockets of violence and ballot snatching did not undermine the fairness and credibility of the election.
Its National Coordinator, Comrade Peter Nwokolo, called for the prosecution of perpetrators of violence and their sponsors.
He said: “Coalition affiliates jointly or severally observed the elections in all polling units across Kogi State and our views here constitute a composite/bird’s eye view of our observations.
“The elections were smooth and successful in most areas across the state as observed by our members.
“Elections in a few polling centres were marred by violence, ballot box snatching and other forms of disruption, by hoodlums, some of them in police uniform, working for unknown principals.
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Nwokolo added: “The coalition calls on the Nigerian Police and other law enforcement agents to unearth the faceless individuals behind such criminal activities.
“As said earlier, coalition observed incidences of violence which affected a few polling units across the state. The severity of such incidences were more pronounced in certain areas, particularly Lokoja. This is because of the sophistication of the operations in the affected units in the state capital.
“Coalition must however note that while the worst act of violence disrupted polling in the affected units, the actual damage to the electoral outcomes remained minor overall.”
“Nevertheless, coalition notes that violence has remained a sad reality of elections in Nigeria for decades and the relevant authorities must do more to stamp it out.
“Being unarmed in the main the police became as defenseless as the citizen-voters themselves wherever armed thuggery occurred.
“In concluding, coalition states categorically that the 2019 Kogi State governorship elections held last Saturday,  were largely free, fair and credible. The observed anomalies reported above, including the incidents of thuggery and associated violence, were comparatively too few and ineffective to justify the calls from some quarters for total cancellation of the entire elections. The INEC is advised to ignore such calls as misguided.”

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