Press Release: on Observation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Voting in Adamawa State: 2019 General Elections
Observation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Voting in Adamawa State: 2019 General Elections
12th March 2019
Insurgency in the North-East Nigeria has brought about destruction of lives and property. Many Nigerian citizens have lost their relatives and loved ones. Many people are homeless as a result of destruction of houses and other infrastructure by insurgents. Many fled from their communities to save their lives. This has led to a tremendous increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are vulnerable. Adamawa state has an estimated 168,205 IDPs. It is important to note that most of the IDPs in Adamawa State are from Borno state. Adamawa has a unique situation because many were also displaced due to communal and herdsmen conflicts. The IDPs require different types of assistance to enable them sustain their lives and protect their families. However, as the election drew closer, there were concerns that a good number of registered voters would be disenfranchised, owing to the fact that they have been displaced from their homes/ wards where they registered to vote.
To support efforts targeted at getting more IDP’s to vote, Center for Community Health and Development (CHAD), with support from National Democratic Institute (NDI) designed a campaign to ensure that IDP’s are able to participate in upcoming elections. The voter education (VE) and get out the vote (GOTV) sensitization campaign was designed to mobilize internally displaced persons (IDPs) to go out and exercise their civic responsibilities. Through well-planned communication and outreach, the campaign succeeded in increasing public awareness about IDP issues. Also, the campaign was able to address issues around IDPs’ lack of knowledge of the voting process, inability to collect their PVCs, apathy, and insecurity by providing voter education to IDPs on the new IDP voting framework. Under the framework, intra state IDPs were permitted to vote in both presidential & state gubernatorial elections, while the inter-state IDPs could only vote during the presidential elections. Another component of the framework is that where there are more than 750 IDP voters, a voting point should be created in the camp.
Since 2015, NDI and its partner CHAD have conducted voter education/get out the vote campaigns to mobilize IDPs in the North East to participate in the Nigerian general elections and advocated to relevant stakeholders on the need to address barriers to IDPs voting.
CHAD conducted a series of voter education sensitization activities in Fufore and Malkohi IDP camps, and also host communities in Madagali LGA. During the activities, IDPs were enlightened on the new voting process, election day procedures, electoral offences and penalties, right and responsibilities of a voter etc. Also, IDPs were enlightened on the new framework for IDP voting. Through a comprehensive training, IDP camp leaders learned how to disseminate voter education messages to mobilize fellow IDPs to vote during the election.
In order to get relevant stakeholders to eliminate barriers to IDP voting, CHAD brought together stakeholders such as Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC), Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency (ASEMA), the Police, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Media and political parties to discuss issues around creating voting points for IDPs, collection of PVCs, logistic support for IDP voters in far communities and insecurity. CHAD secured stakeholders commitments to address the issues identified and create an enabling environment for IDPs to participate in the general election. Although the period for the implementation of the campaign was barely a month, however CHAD succeeded in mobilizing IDPs in Fufore, Malkohi IDP camps and Madagali LGAs to vote during the general elections
To ascertain the level of IDPs’ participation after being mobilized and INEC’s compliance to the IDP voting framework, CHAD observed the 2019 Presidential, National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly elections in Fufore, Makohi, Gulak and Shuwa communities. During the elections, CHAD observed that generally there was a great turnout of IDP voters and the process was peaceful. However, there are certain issues that need to be addressed:
- In Fufore camp more than 800 IDPs got registered and obtained their PVC yet there was no voting point in the IDP camp, and for this reason IDPs had to trek over 3km to vote in the general election. This is contrary to INEC guideline that states “where there are more than 750 voters, a voting unit should be provided for the voters”.
- Some IDP women were not accredited because the card reader could not authenticate them.
- Some of them were turned back because they were not in the right polling unit.
- In a location where IDPs voted, only one civil defense officer was seen at the polling unit, without any other security officer.
- Voting result for the IDPs were not transmitted using the EC8 series and E-Collation procedures.
- In Madagali communities, many IDPs had to travel over 70km to be able to vote. This implied that most IDPs were disenfranchised and were not able to carry out their civic responsibilities. In most cases, politicians took advantage of the situation by providing the IDP voters transport and food. This was another form of vote buying.
- Some IDP voters especially those from the mountain area travelled over 100 km to vote, while many others were unable to travel the long distance to vote due to insecurity and economic reason.
- Most IDPs were intimidated and forced to vote in a particular way against their will by armed individuals threatening to harm them if they refused.
- IDPs who could not afford to transport themselves to the voting centres were conveyed there by political actors. Thus, IDPs were coerced to vote in a certain way
- No special preference was given to the vulnerable IDPs during the general elections and as result, most internally displaced persons with disabilities (IDPWD)were not able to vote.
- INEC should implement to the letter, the elements of the framework for IDP especially the section on creating voting points in the IDP camps.
- INEC and relevant stakeholders should develop a logistic plan to ensure IDPs in far communities are transported to the voting centres to avoid manipulation by political actors.
- INEC should review the IDP voting framework to address gaps that contradict the Electoral Act
- Government should make plans to return IDPs to their original communities to address voter apathy and encourage active participation of IDPs in the political process.
- CSOs should be given sufficient time (about 4 months) by donors to implement any campaign to ensure success is achieved and impact of the campaign felt by recipients
Democracy thrives when there is inclusivity in the political process. IDPs are citizens of Nigeria too, therefore efforts must be made to ensure their participation in elections. Relevant stakeholders should take seriously their roles in caring for the welfare of IDPs to build confidence in the electoral process before, during and after elections.
CHAD would like to commend various stakeholders such as the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Adamawa, Executive Secretary ASEMA, the Police, the military, NOA and media for their support in mobilizing IDPs participation in the general elections. Finally, we appreciate the National Democratic Institute (NDI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UKAID for their support to the campaign.
Centre for Community Health and Development International