The Women Aid Collective (WACOL), a South-East based NGO has expressed shock at discoveries made by its monitors during the 2019 general elections in the zone.
The WACOL worked in partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and its United Kingdom counterpart, UKaid.
WACOL’s Consultant Mr Malachy Ochei made the disclosure on Friday in Enugu during a news conference and presentation of the report on “Election Violence Monitoring in South-East”.
Ochei said that reports from the 125 election monitors deployed by the NGO to cover the zone were a “mixed grill’’.
He said that while elections in Enugu State and Anambra were relatively peaceful, the exercise in Abia, Imo and Ebonyi was marred by violence, incidences of vote buying, ballot box snatching and others.
The consultant said that of note were incidences in parts of Abia, especially in the Ohuhu part of Umuahia South Local Government Area where the card readers were ditched for manual voting.
“There were incidences of ballot box snatching, invasion of collation centres by armed thugs during sorting of votes and meddling by security agencies who got involved in the election process.
“There were cases of malfunctioning of card readers and insistence of politicians to resort to manual accreditation.
“There were no serious security arrangement and this made thugs to have a field day,” he said.
Ochei said that apart from violence in parts of Abia North, their monitors also observed incidences of vote buying and intimidation of voters in the state capital.
He said that the exercise in Aba was peaceful.
The consultant said that similar situations played out in Ebonyi, especially in Ohaozara, Ivo, Afikpo Owutu Eda, Izzi and Ishielu axis.
He said that their monitors observed that about 15, 442 registered voters could not exercise their franchise in Eza North Local Government Area of the state.
“In certain areas of the state, security agencies conducted themselves very well though a death was recorded in Okposi,” he said.
Ochei said that the situation in Imo was not better as the state witnessed massive violence.
He said that Orlu Zone became a “theatre of war’’ and the political process monetised.
“The political situation in the state worsened as the elections wore on,” he said.
He, however, regretted that the level of political assassination in the state which, he noted, might likely continue after the elections, was under-reported.
Ochei said that though Enugu recorded limited scale of violence but the election was generally peaceful.
“Security agencies in the state did not meddle with the process and INEC ad hoc staff refused to be compromised,” he said.
He regretted that their monitors could not gain access to collation centres in the areas reported.
In her remark, the WACOL Programme Manager, Mrs Anulika Ezennaya, said that the Nigerian Election Violent Report with assistance from the USAID and UKaid was being implemented in six regions of the country.
Ezennaya said that the report would form part of their contribution in the process of reforming the electoral system in the country.