From the Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday came a damning verdict on last Saturday by-elections into Gaya and Garko state assembly constituencies in Kano State.
A statement by the commission’s Chief Press Secretary, Kayode Idowu, alleged that voters and officials were harassed, intimidated and assaulted by armed youths, while security agents failed to intervene.
The statement reads: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received reports of assault, intimidation and harassment of voters and election officials during the by-elections into Gaya and Garko state assembly constituencies in Kano State held on Saturday, February 2, 2013.
“Field reports available to the commission revealed that mobs of armed youths disrupted the electoral process in some areas, harassing and intimidating innocent voters. Electoral officials were also intimidated, harassed and threatened, while some INEC supervisory officials were assaulted.
“The commission is highly disappointed that the culture of thuggery, intolerance and unruly conduct by partisans yet bedevil the electoral process in our country.
“Regrettably, reports also showed that despite the overwhelming show of force by armed youths during the Kano State by-election, security agents failed to intervene. INEC is concerned that under the circumstance, the elections were conducted in an unwholesome atmosphere that interfered with voters’ exercise of their freedom of choice.
“The commission hereby affirms that this sort of situation must not be allowed in our political process because it subverts the fundamental principle of free, fair and credible elections. INEC therefore calls on security agencies to remain vigilant; and to promptly intervene, whenever necessary, against the use of thuggery to intimidate or harass voters, thereby subverting the political process.”