Don’t Infringe on People’s Right, Situation Room Warns Security Agents

  •  Says 260 deaths recoded during campaigns 

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The coalition of civil society organisations, under the auspices of the Situation Room, has enjoined the security agents on election duty to be guided by the Electoral law and try to be as civil as possible in performing the duties on Saturday.

The Situation Room said it 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Electoral Commission (INEC) by security agencies in the last few days, adding that such directive even if later withdrawn amounted to undue pressure.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.

It put the figure of those killed within the period of political campaigns in the country at about 260.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and the Convener of the Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, said that it was a welcomed 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 disturbs the voting system.

Nwankwo said that the light of the very light and 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 has received assurances from INEC chairman that the welfare of the police and adhoc staff.

Regarding the state of preparations by INEC, Nwankwo said that the Situation Room can confirm that as at Friday INEC has been able to deploy sensitive election materials up to the local government council level throughout the country.