Coalition Claims 260 Deaths Recorded during Campaigns

Clement Nwankwo

*Warns security agents not to Infringe on people’s rights

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The coalition of civil society organisations, under the auspices of the Situation Room, has put the figure of those killed within the period of political campaigns in the country at about 260.

This was disclosed at a press conference on Friday, addressed by the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and the Convener of the Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo,

He enjoined the security agents on election duty to be guided by the electoral law and try to be as civil as possible in performing their duties on Saturday.

He said the Situation Room was deeply concerned by reports of invitations issued for the interrogation of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by security agencies in the last few days, adding that such directive, even if later withdrawn, amounted to undue pressure.

The civil society groups also expressed worry over what it described as the spike in politically motivated killings in the lead up to the elections.

He said that it was a welcome development that President Muhammadu Buhari seemed to have moderated his earlier directive to security agents to deal ruthlessly with ballot box snatchers or those who disturb the voting process.

Nwankwo said that in the light of the very calm broadcast by the president on Friday that security agents will understand his latest disposition and approach their duties on Saturday with the same measure of calm and pleasant manner.

“Situation Room would like to warn that military and other security personnel who carry out unlawful orders would under international law be held accountable. Under section 29(3) of the Electoral Act, the Nigerian military are specifically excluded from direct involvement in elections.

” Regulation 341 of the Police Act (LFN 2004) confers personal liability on any police officer who employs excessive force in the exercise of his powers as a police officer. Similarly Article 5 of the United Nations Code for law enforcement officials 1979 does not recognise superior order as a defence for the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials, ” he said.

He said the situation room had received assurances from INEC chairman on the welfare of the police and ad hoc staff.
Regarding the state of preparations by INEC, Nwankwo said that the Situation Room can confirm that as at Friday, INEC had been able to deploy sensitive election materials up to the local government council level throughout the country.