Anambra Poll: Group issues preliminary statement on conduct of security agents

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….Lauds electorate, INEC, security agents

…Points Way Forward

A Non-governmental Organization, Centre for Law Enforcement Education In Nigeria, popularly known as CLEEN Foundation has issued a preliminary statement on the conduct of the security agents who participated in just concluded Anambra State gubernatorial election.

Addressing participants comprising the Media, Civil Society Organizations CSOs, Election Observers and other relevant stakeholders, the Assistant Programme Manager, Public Safety and Security CLEEN, Mrs. Chigozirim Okoro, took her time to eulogized Anambra electorate for the way and manner they comported themselves throughout the exercise, noting that the conduct of security agents during and after the election was commendable, especially in the discharge of their duties at the patrol bits, polling units, and collation centres.

She also showered encomiums on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for conducting what she described as the most peaceful election ever witnessed in the history of Anambra State, even as she urged them to maintain the tempo.

Mrs. Okoro stated that INEC’s performance in the just concluded governorship election had endeared it to the people’s hearts, noting that if the current trend would be sustained, Nigeria would be better for it and the poor masses the immediate beneficiaries.

According to the Programme Manager, CLEEN Foundation observed the November 18 governorship election in Anambra state, with specific focus on the security dimensions of the election, emphasizing that the CLEEN Foundation sustained active engagement with several critical stakeholders to ensure that the November 18 governorship election was conducted in a secure and peaceful atmosphere. 

She said that the CLEEN Foundation was committed to promoting public safety, security and justice in Nigeria, noting that the mission was in furtherance of other interventions earlier made by the organization to enhance election security in the state. 

“These interventions were geared towards making positive impact on the election landscape in general and electoral security management in particular. CLEEN Foundation trained and deployed a total of 83 persons to observe the deployment and conduct of security agents during the November 18 governorship election.

“Out of this number, 73 observers were deployed across the 21 LGAs of the state. They had a standardised checklist containing important questions about the deployment and conduct of security agents during the election. 

“In addition, there were six other roving observers, whose activities covered the three Senatorial Districts. The field observers provided real-time updates and reports on the election-day in the form of voice calls, pictures and short message service (SMS) to a WhatsApp group, #CLEENSituationRoom#, from their locations.

“A team of four other observers operated the Call Centre, co-located with the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room.The information sharing among partner organisations in the Situation Room also enabled CLEEN Foundation to cross-check its field observations”, Okoro submitted.

She emphasized that immediately the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that the governorship election in Anambra state would hold on November 18, 2017, people within and outside the state entertained fears about the security before and during the election.

Okoro recalled that as the election drew closer, the apprehension became palpable against the backdrop of threat of election boycott by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), large number of political contestants, huge deployment of state security forces, and the history of godfather politics, among other factors.

The foundation recommended that the security agencies should continue to evolve and fine-tune ‘right-sized’ deployment of its agents to improve elections security; that the Media and Civil Society organisations should deepen public enlightenment on the dangers of vote trading on the credibility of elections and prospect of good governance.

That the Security agents and presiding officers should show more commitment in curbing vote trading and voter inducement at the polling unit, that the level of inter-agency collaboration observed in the election should be sustained and improved upon in future elections.

Also that the National Orientation Agency and civil society organisations should intensify the sensitisation of the citizens on the need to support security agents in the arrest and prosecution of electoral offenders and that the security agencies should make adequate logistics arrangements for the feeding and accommodation of the personnel on election duty, including ensuring prompt payment of their allowances, that the INEC should commit more technical resources to improving the functionality and reliability of the Card Reader Machines (CRMs).

Speaking on the observation on security agents and election security, a Senior Lecturer at University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), and the moderator of presentation, Dr. Freedom Onuoha, said there were several observations regarding the poll in general and security interventions more specifically. 

He enumerated some of the key observations which he said bordered on election security, noting that observers reported that the military maintained outposts on major routes of entrance and exit from the state, adding that there were also reports of proper conduct of the military stationed on the major roads and locations in the state during the election.

The University Don said there was a reported case of arrest of three persons suspected of carrying IPOB leaflets, stating that the suspects were arrested by the military at DMGS Roundabout, off Oguta Road, Onitsha North LGA, stating that the overall conduct of the military during the election was commendable.

On the patrol by security agents, he said there were sustained visibility policing through ground, aerial and waterways patrol by security agencies, especially the police, noting that the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) and the NSCDC also maintained visible level of ground patrol, adding that the Police had patrol teams that visited some polling units to ensure that voting was going on smoothly and patrols provided the needed sense of safety and security during the election.

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