….Calls on Security Agencies to Tackle threats to election
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
With the emerging trends, the election campaigns are becoming more competitive and fiercely contested, WTV observed political party rallies and campaign paraphernalia including billboards and voter education campaigns from different electoral stakeholders. YIAGA AFRICA has also called on security agencies to tackle any impending threat to the upcoming Governorship elections as pre-election observation shows early earning signals of violence.
Below are the summary of the findings based on INEC’s preparedness, political campaigns, voter education, participation of marginalized groups, and early warning signs of electoral violence.
- Early Warning Signs and Indicators of Violence:
- Violent Physical and Verbal Attacks During Political Party Activities: WTV LTOs reported political party supporters having clashed over issues of lecturers been partisan or supporting candidates and competition for access to road network in Ankpa LGA in Kogi state. Other physical and verbal violence were reported from Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Nembe and Sagbama in Bayelsa state and Kabba/Bunu in Kogi state.
- Recruitment of Political Thugs and Stockpiling of Arms and Weapons: WTV The reports highlights possible threat to the peaceful conduct of the election with the observation of the presence of small arms and weapons in some LGA’s. LTOs identified a community called Okabb in Ankpa LGA, being used for the storage of ammunition and the recruitment of thugs. Though the ammunitions were discovered to have been stored prior to the 2019 General Election. Other reports of recruitment of political thugs were from communities in Yenagoa and Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa state and in Okehi and Idah in Kogi state.
- Violation of Electoral Laws and Guidelines
- Trading of PVCs and voter details: WTV findings reveals that buying and selling of PVCs still exists. WTV LTOs reported political parties moving from house to house in Ankpa LGA, Kogi state, documenting names and polling unit numbers and addresses of citizens with PVCs, while offering advance payments of five hundred naira (N500), ahead of the election. In Bayelsa (Yenagoa LGA) findings also reveals that some citizens in Opolo and Gbarian area were selling their PVCs for five hundred (N500) and one thousand (N1,000) naira.
- Campaigns based on Inducement not issues: WTV monitored and tracked voter inducement through the distribution of money or gift items. The WTV LTOs found out that political party candidates or their supporters are distributing money and gift items such as vehicles in communities in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state and in Okehi and Ankpa of Kogi state.
- Status of Election Administration and Preparations: WTV recognises the role of INEC in election administration and therefore monitored the commission’s activities in the past two weeks. Findings from this monitoring reveals the reasonable compliance of INEC with the elections timetable as indicated in the conduct of preparatory activities such as recruitment and training of adhoc staff, stakeholder engagements and voter education amongst others, in preparations for the November 16 polls in both Bayelsa and Kogi state. These activities were observed in all the LGAs of Bayelsa and Kogi States, except for Ijumu LGA in Kogi state.
- Political Party Campaign Activities: Political parties in Bayelsa state are engaging more in political campaigns than in Kogi state.The findings from Bayelsa state reveals that: APC did not hold any rally in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA; PDP did not hold any rally in Kolokuma/ Opokuma, Southern Ijaw and Ogbia LGA; and SDP as well did not hold campaigns in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Nembe, Ogbia, Ekeremor and Sagbama LGA. While for Kogi state: ADC rallies did not hold in any LGA; APC rallies did not hold in Adavi, Ankpa, Brass, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Ijumu, Mopa Moro, Yagba East, and Yagba West LGA; and PDP rallies in did not hold in Adavi, Ogori Mangogo, Okehi, Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Ijumu, Mopa Moro, Yagba East, and Yagba West LGA. While campaigns have commenced earnestly in both states, the conversations are still devoid of in-depth analysis of the issues and political manifesto highlighting clear plans for improving governance and development in both states.
- Inclusive and Representative Politics: There are many aspects to promoting inclusive and representative politics to ensure the participation of women, youth and persons with disability as candidates, as voters, as election personnel etc. For the pre-election observation, specific activities were tracked. This includes targeted voter education and marginalised groups participating in each element of the electoral process. As observed in this reporting phase; INEC, NOA and CSO are engaging in targeted campaigns to ensure peaceful participation of youth. Women groups were canvassing for votes in all the 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state and in 15 LGAs in Kogi state. While youth were canvassing for votes in all 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state and 14 LGAs in Kogi state.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
- INEC and Political parties should develop an effective communication constructive dialogue to address challenges and requirements for achieving peaceful pre-election engagements, and credible and peaceful elections on November 16.
- INEC should step up its engagements with security agencies, to tacking violation of electoral codes (buying and selling of PVC and voter inducement) and electoral violence indicators.
- Security agencies, the police should investigate and manage the report of recruitment of thugs and stockpiling of arms, to avoid an outbreak of violence in the coming election.
- Security agencies should investigate and arrest people engaged in buying and selling of PVCs, and any form of voter inducement, to serve as a deterrent to others.
- Security agencies should engage in active engagement and communications with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and its operations ahead of the election.
- Political party candidates and supporters should shy away from any form of physical or verbal attacks to ensure credible and peaceful elections.
- All political parties, especially in Kogi state should increase their activities of engaging voters with their policy plan while soliciting their support and votes.
- Voters should get ready to vote with their PVCs and not sell it for short-time gain
- Citizens should report any form of electoral malpractice or criminal act to INEC and security agencies, the police, to foster peaceful democratic transition.
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