REPORT ON THE NIGERIA FEDERAL AND STATE GENERAL ELECTIONS,
-------- Original Message --------
||[NDPA] ELECTION AS A LOW- INTENSITY ARMED POLITICAL STRUGGLE!
||Thu, 17 Apr 2003 21:44:23 +0100
||"ERA/FoE N" <Eraction@infoweb.abs.net>
ELECTION AS A LOW- INTENSITY ARMED POLITICAL STRUGGLE!
The Democracy Outreach Program (D.O.P) of Environmental Rights Action,
(ERA), Nigeria and Africa's leading Environmental Justice advocacy civil
society organization is participating in the ongoing Nigerian General Elections
as Independent Domestic Election Monitors/Observers, duly registered with
the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Our purpose is to contribute to the consolidation of the democratization
Revolution which is unfolding in our country by conducting snap observation
and monitoring exercises to draw out the strength s and weaknesses of the
electoral process in Nigeria and to raise popular awareness about the rights
of the people to choose those who will govern them, and their sacred duty
to safeguard, defend and promote the realization and full actualization of
This is an executive summary of the National Assembly (NASS) Elections which
took place Saturday 12th April, 2003. The full and detailed report will come
out within one week of the release of this summary.
Subsequently, we will come out with executive summaries and full detailed
reports of each of the remaining stages of the General elections.
Our snap observation/monitoring exercise covered some states of the
south-south [Niger Delta – Editor] for the NASS Elections.
SUMMARY OF REPORT
Generally in Rivers and Bayelsa States, the elections commenced contrary
to the earlier advertised time by the INEC well into the afternoon. In most
of the places visited in Port Harcourt and its suburbs, INEC officials were
not at their posts until between 11am and 12 noon, while election materials
did not arrive until about 1pm and 2pm. Actual voting commenced in most places
between 2.30pm and 3.30pm, while voting stopped between 5pm and 6pm.
In parts of Rivers and Bayelsa States observed by our monitors, the elections
could be characterized as a low Intensity Armed Struggle. Weapons and firearms
of various types and sophistication were freely used.
In Sagbama in Bayelsa state, INEC office, as well as the Government lodge
were torched and set ablaze by community members over allegation that voting
had already taken place the previous night at the government house in Yenagoa.
In Abuloma and to a lesser extent in Amadi-Ama areas of Port Harcourt Local
Government Area (PHALGA), voting which commenced very late was preceded in
the morning by sporadic shooting into the air and intimidating activities
of political thugs who occupied the vacuum created by the conspicuous absence
of law enforcement agents at the polling centres throughout the morning hours
and the early afternoon.
In Nembe in Bayelsa, there was also armed disruption of the exercise by political
thugs allegedly belonging to the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). There was
a sustained shoot out on Friday night as well as on the Saturday of the elections
resulting in fatalities.
When voting eventually commenced, the exercise went on in a fairly orderly
manner, except for the fact that turn out was low due to a combination of
1.. Lateness in commencement of voting.
2.. The early intimidating and armed violence of thugs.
3.. The heavy downpour which occurred in parts of the two states later
in the afternoon.
4.. The non arrival of voting materials in many places, etc.
In Ozuboko-Ama where there are five voting units from unit 037 to 041,
actual and genuine voting took place throughout at only one unit, 041. At
the other 4 units, 037 - 040, after the first hour of voting when genuine
voting took place, the rest of the day was spent stuffing the ballot boxes
with ballot paper being thumb printed by the presiding officials. Booklets
were taken into private homes to be . thumb printed and then brought back.
The entire massive multiple voting was recorded for the Peoples Democratic
In Somiari at one of its two polling units (unit 046), an attempt to seize
ballot papers and the ballot boxes was resisted by community members. It
was also alleged that those who attempted to seize the papers were working
At the only unit (unit 043) in Ukukalama, the coordinating officials did
not know that the ballot papers were to be stamped and duly signed before
use by the presiding officer.
At Amadi-Ama, eight polling units were manned at the community secondary
school. These were units 31-36 and 51 and 52. Here too, there were instances
of multiple voting, and stuffing of the ballot boxes in favour of PDP particularly
in units 33 and 51.
In Diobu, thugs hijacked ballot boxes, ballot papers and election materials
in the open glare of INEC officials and policemen, went away with them, stuffed
the boxes with ballot boxes which were mass thumb printed, and brought them
At the earlier mentioned Ozuboko centres where massive rigging took place,
the community association leaders, the INEC officials, including the supervisor,
as well as the policemen seemed to be working together because everything
went on under their joint direction and coordination. And as in the Diobu
case, the beneficiary of the electoral fraud was the ruling PDP.
In Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, armed thugs took over the streets
and patrolled throughout the day, brandishing guns, machetes etc, intimidating
voters and preventing many people who would have otherwise voted from voting.
In Bori, headquarters of Khana LGA, and the political headquarters of Ogoniland,
armed youths/thugs took over the town and there was sustained gunfire between
8pm on Friday night and 6am on Saturday morning. Thus by Saturday, Bori was
nearly totally deserted and the intimidated residents failed to turn up for
In any case election did not commence till about 3pm anywhere in Ogoniland.
In Bodo City, another Ogoni community in Gokana LGA, armed thugs took over
the polling centres and forced prospective voters at gunpoint to vote for
the PDP. Even the wife of the ANPP senatorial candidate, Dr. Ben Naanen,
was forced at gunpoint to vote for the "rival" PDP candidate, Mr. Lee Maeba.
This scenario was repeated in almost all the Ogoni communities where ERA
monitored the election.
In Emohua community, youths resisted attempts by armed PDP thugs to force
people to vote for the PDP in pitched battles.