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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Governorship election: CLEEN calls on security agencies to prevent, control electoral violence

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CLEEN Foundation has called on security agencies to rise to prevent and put under control all forms of electoral violent incidents recorded in different states during the ongoing Governorship and State House Assembly elections.

CLEEN foundation election observers deployed across the states where the election is taking place and other independent election observers have reported some violent incidents in parts of a few states.

Addressing newsmen at the CLEEN Foundation’s Election Security Support Center (ESSC) in Abuja on Saturday, the Foundation’s Executive Director, Mr. Gad Peter confirmed some violent incidents during the ongoing elections as reported by own observers from across the country.

In his interim statement made available to newsmen, Peter stated that “CLEEN Foundation opened her Election Security Support Centre (ESSC) at 6pm,17th March, 2023 to monitor in real time security situations during the 2023 Governorship and State Assembly Elections.

“Our focus is on election security management for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the elections. It can be recalled that the Nigeria Police Force reported deployment of 310,973 personnel to maintain law and order. The primary objective of CLEEN’s Election Security Support Center is to observe the conduct of security personnel across the country in discharging their duties as stipulated in relevant laws on elections in Nigeria. The gubernatorial election is being contested in 28 states and 993 state assembly constituency elections across 176,846 polling units in the country.

The ESSC observers reported that elections commenced early in most of the polling units visited across the country. Security agents and INEC adhoc staff were visibly seen before 8am in majority of visited polling units. For instance, reports from PU 16, Danchuwa ward, Potiskum LGA of Yobe State and in Imo State, Owerri Municipal LGA, Ward 1 World Primary School, PU 001, security agents and officials got to the polling units as early as 6:30am. However, in PU 004, Umuaka Hall 1, Nsude Ward, Udi LGA, Enugu State INEC officials and security agents were not on site as at 9.42am. Similarly, Umuoleyi Primary School polling unit in Obollo Orie Ward in Udenu LGA, Enugu State, had no INEC and security officials as at 9:45am.”

On Adequacy of Security Personnel, “The CLEEN Foundation ESSC observed that in 75% of the polling unit, there were adequate security personnel. At most of the polling units, two or more security personnel were sighted. For instance in  Bayelsa State, Southern Ijaw LGA, Ward 2 Oporoma, PU 19 Otuobiri Primary school, (2) two policemen were seen at the polling unit. However, in Delta State, Okpe LGA, Ward 10, PU 16, Ubrete (Jeddo Town), security personnel were not on ground.

“CLEEN Foundation observers reported that security personnel were wearing easily identifiable name tags and were approachable.

Early reports from CLEEN observers suggested that security personnel acted professionally and impartially towards voters. This was displayed by police officers assigned to PU 19, Ward 2 Oporoma, Southern Ijaw, Bayelsa State; PU 36/07/09/013, UBE Low Cost, Tudun Wada, Gusau LGA, Zamfara State, amongst others. Meanwhile, in PU 19, Ward 2, Otuobiri Primary School, Southern IJaw LGA, it was reported that the polling unit was rowdy, and a reinforcement of security was deployed to manage the crowd.

“CLEEN Foundation Election Security Support Centre observed that most security personnel exhibited professional conduct at the various polling units. In the majority of the polling units visited by CLEEN Foundation, observers noticed that security personnel discharged their duty professionally. Similarly, over 90% reported that security personnel did not use force on voters during the process.”

Peter added that as at the time of filing the preliminary report, CLEEN ESSC observed that in Lagos, Enugu, Imo, Bayelsa, and Rivers states incidences of voter suppression/intimidation as well as thuggery have been reported. For instance, in  Enugu State, Enugu North LGA, Ward: OGUI New Layout, PU: Obiagu Primary last bus stop, thugs attacked an INEC accredited observer. Also, voting materials for Ogbia ward 2, 3, 4 and 5 under Constituency 2 in Ogbia Local Govt Area of Bayelsa State were carted away and destroyed by thugs. In  PU039, Sabo Oniba, Ojo LGA, thugs were seen with arms threatening voters. In Lagos  Amuwo Odofin, polling unit 069,  thugs were visibly seen vandalizing people’s cars to intimidate voters. Again, in PU053 Oke-Afa, Ejibo LGA, Lagos State, party agents were seen intimidating INEC staff to inflate the result sheet in favour of a particular political party.

The ED urged Citizens to maintain the peace and remain resolute in exercising their franchise and called on security agencies to rise to prevent and control violent  incidents erupting from different states.

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