CSOs to Police, Security Agencies: Hold Your Officers Deployed to Polling Stations Responsible for Breaches

*Says flash points of violent states are Rivers, Ebonyi, Delta, Nasarawa and Zamfara 

*Yiaga Africa deploys 3,836 observers 

*Police pledge hitch free poll 

*Female lawyers seek protection of women against violence

*List Borno, Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara as hotspots Group to students, youths: Do not sell your votes

Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah in Abuja, Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto, Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

With exactly 24 hours to the presidential and National Assembly elections, a coalition of civil society groups has called on the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba and other heads of security agencies to hold security officials posted to polling centres accountable for any breach during the elections.
The civil society groups also commended President Mohammadu Buhari for opting to remain neutral during the presidential and other elections.

The group alerted security agencies of states perceived as security flash points to include Rivers, Ebonyi, Delta, Nasarawa and Zamfara states.
Addressing a press conference, the Coordinator of 1st NGO Radar Room by the Speak Out Africa Initiative, Kenneth Eze, while commending Buhari for his stance on neutrality, charged the Police and heads of security agencies to hold police officers deployed to any polling centres responsible for any security breach.  
According to Eze, “We call on the Inspector General of Police to configure Polling Units’ security agent encryption where each assigned security agent to polling unit would be held accountable for actions/inactions such as vote-buying and other vices and such personnel details should be given to INEC staff in the polling unit to avoid impersonation/for recognition.”

According to him, “INEC should carry out a pre-voter education before accreditation commences to all the voters on the queue on how to vote correctly, how to fold the ballot paper as well as issue of polling unit transfer to quell voter agitation.”
He added, “The central bank should track all transfer of money 48hrs to the election day through the commercial banks for possible identification of suspicious electronic money transfer from single source-to-multiple individuals as politicians’ device new means of vote-buying while EFCC and ICPC handles the physical aspect of vote trading.

“We call on Nigerians to #WatchTheirVotesThemselves through Irev (INEC Result viewing portal) as that has been made possible through INEC innovation.
“We call on the citizens of Nigeria to take their destiny by their hands and reject any attempt to arm-twist their will or suffocate our hard-earned democracy and should troop out en masse to go out and vote for the candidate of their choice as we birth a New Nigeria.”
The groups identified states as flash spots stating that, “through our violence incidence tracker, we wish to alert the security agencies to place an eye on the following states as there is likelihood of undemocratic issues such states are Lagos – where there is likelihood of voter suppression, likely security breaches, vote-buying,
“Deliberate logistics delay, ethnic coloration, attempt to compromise INEC staff, likely attempt to undermine technology functionality and palpable violence attack on voters.

“Ebonyi and Abia – likelihood of attacks on political opponents using state machinery, political desperation by key actors and politically-induced voter apathy.
“Rivers and Delta – where political power tussle will be at the highest, vote-trading and activities of non-state actors.
“Kano, Kogi and Kaduna – where political power tussle will be at the highest, vote-trading and attempt to compromise INEC staff and likely security breaches, and lastly Benue, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Anambra and Enugu as states that need to be curtailed,” he said.
In the same manner, Yiaga Africa at a press conference addressed Dr. Hussaini Abdu, Chairman and Samson Itodo, the Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, the organisation would be deploying a total of 3,836 observers throughout the country.

According to Yiaga Africa, “This is comprised of 3,014 stationary Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) observers deployed to a random representative statistical sample of 1,507 polling units; 822 roving observers across the 774 LGAs and 36 states; and 8 Working Group members who run real-time election analysis.”
Yiaga Africa added, “We call on the Inspector General of Police to configure polling units’ security agent encryption where each assigned security agent to polling unit would be held accountable for actions/inactions such as vote-buying and other vices, and such personnel details should be given to the INEC staff in the polling unit to avoid impersonation/for recognition in the presidential election.”

Police Pledge Hitch-free Poll
The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of North-west zone, Muhammad Inuwa, yesterday, said the Nigeria Police Force would collaborate with other security agencies to ensure a hitch free poll in the zone on Saturday.
Inuwa, made the disclosure at police headquarters, Sokoto, while briefing men of Nigerian Army, police and other paramilitaries in the state.
The DIG noted that he was in Sokoto on monitoring and assessment and to meet with security stakeholders in the state.
He said as security personnel, they must remain apolitical, saying they should have no sympathy for any political party.
“Our own duty is to maintain law and order during and after election,” he stated.

He said this synergy would continue even after the election, stressing that when it comes to internal security police are in forefront
“You know government comes and government goes, but we remain loyal to government in power to ensure peace reign in the country,” he added.
The DIG also went into a closed-door meeting with traditional leaders, political parties, EU election observers, where he enjoined political parties to caution their supporters to refrain from violence during and after the elections.
He maintained that no eligible voter would be disfranchised, saying his men are ready to deal decisively with those who want to foment trouble during and after the elections.

Earlier in his welcome address the Commissioner of Police, Sokoto State, Muhammad Usaini Gumel, said as part of preparation for a hitch-free poll, the command held series of inter-agency consultative meetings where every security agency pledged to do everything to ensure violence-free election.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 13 (Awka), Anambra State, Abutu Yaro, alongside other four Commissioners of Police deployed to Rivers State to supervise the general elections, has assured of adequate security across the Local Government Areas in the state before, during and after the polls.
The AIG who briefed journalists yesterday, at the Police headquarters on Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, stressed that election was not war, but a political process which should be peaceful, with a comfortable outcome.
Yaro, warned trouble makers and persons who intend to disrupt the peace of the state during the elections, to steer clear, saying that the Police and other security agencies would not allow such to thrive.

Yaro said the delegation was mandated by the Inspector General Police to undertake election security management, stressing that the police was determined to ensure professionalism and rancour free election in Rivers State.
He commended officers of the police command, sister agencies for maintaining stable security in the state, urging for more professionalism which he said, should be in tandem with the law.

“There is no alternative to peace. We encourage all persons and all Police officers to be professional in discharge of their duties. We ensure election is rancour free and peaceful. We keep you abreast as the election progress.
“The only legacy we can impact as individuals is legacy of peace. We owe a duty to God and to the state to preserve the legacy of peace,” he added.
THISDAY observed at the briefing that three Commissioner of Police were deployed to each of the three Senatorial district in Rivers, while the fourth CP was deployed as resident Commissioner of Police in the state Police headquarters.

Female Lawyers Task INEC, Security Agencies on Violence against Women

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has called on key actors in the electoral processes to address the issue of violence against women believed to be responsible for the low participation of Nigerian women in politics.
The association made the call yesterday, in Abuja, during the launch and opening of a Situation Room to observe the participation of women and violence perpetrated against women in the 2023 general elections.

Speaking at the occasion, the Country Vice President/ National President, Mrs. Amina Agbaje, lamented that despite women constituting about 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population, their level of political participation and representation was increasingly very poor.
Agbaje added that out of the 15,303 candidates contesting for various elective positions, only about 1,557 are females.
“Current statistics of women in parliament in Nigeria confirm that women representation in parliament has been on a steady decline, nine per cent in 2007; seven per cent in 2011; five per cent in 2015 and less than 10 per cent in the 9th National Assembly.
“Using the 2015 figures, there are only four women deputy governors in all of Nigeria’s 36 states. While factors militating against women participation are varied, a major cause hindering effective participation of women in politics is the issue of violence”, she said.

Presenting findings of the association’s Pre-election Assessment on Women Political Participation and Violence Threats Ahead 2023 General Election, Agbaje identified Borno, Plateau, Kaduna and Kwara as “key hotspots and areas that will militate against women participation” in the 2023 general elections.
The national president in addition identified factors such as economic hardship, discrimination against women, kidnapping, assassination, ethnic, religious and communal clashes, inadequate presence of security agencies, party thugs and hate speech amongst others that can trigger violence against women in the elections.

“In the light of the foregoing, key actors in the electoral processes particularly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, security agencies, mass media and civil society organisations need to pay increasing attention to the identified risk factors limiting women participation with a view to tackling them headlong,” she said.

Group to Students, Youths: Do Not Sell Your Votes

Also, a group under the aegis of Stand-Up Speak-Out Initiative (SUSO) has advised university students and youths in the country not to sell their votes but vote candidates of their choice
The group’s Founder and President, Dr. Doyle Edeni, who gave the charge yesterday, at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), during a press conference with the theme: “Students Must Vote Campaign,” said a new Nigeria was possible if youths fulfil their civic responsibility by voting those who can turn things around positively in the country.

He said the initiative was to galvanise students and youths across the country and let them know that they are important part of the voting population that would help to make a new Nigeria possible.
According to him, “We are not rooting for any particular party or candidate, but rooting for a good Nigeria, good governance and youthful leadership that would do the right things.

“We want you to take the message to your campuses, communities, look for youthful candidates that have character and vote them into officers and hold them accountable. Nigeria will be good if we continue to hold leaders accountable for their action.
“Youth should wake up and take your destiny in your hands by voting for a new Nigeria, the idea of saying my vote won’t count should stop, go out there and ushered a new Nigeria by voting a credible candidate.”

Edeni, who lamented that Nigerians still play politics of religion and ethnicity, instead of voting for the right candidate that would ensure that public resources are used for the good of the people, also noted that the goal of group is to ensure good governance where the resources are used for the benefits of the people and the nation.

“We have volunteers from the various institutions across the country who take the message to their people and communities that they should all go out to vote.
“The group is also in the forefront of grass-root community-based mass mobilisation to raise socio-cultural and political awareness of the citizenry.
“Our current Students Must Vote Campaign is just one of many such intervention projects,” Edeni declared.

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