The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) has expressed concern over the potential threats of violence in many states during Saturday’s governorship and state assemblies elections.
The Conveners, NCSSR, Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu, and the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), who was a former Convener of NCSSR, Clement Nwankwo, raised the alarm in their preliminary statement on the pre-elections environment.
They urged security agencies to act quickly in the circumstance especially in Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kano states in the face or recent happenings.
The coalition said it would deploy 2,340 election observers, including 131 Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs), with at least three election observers in each of the 774 local government areas, excluding the FCT, Abuja, where no election is taking place.
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The organisation also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to avoid the loopholes of the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections and ensure the success of the coming state elections.
Obi said, “The security situation across the country appears tense, with reports of violence, kidnap and assassination in several states including Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kano. As such, Situation Room reminds the Nigeria Police and other security agencies that they have a primary responsibility to guarantee the safety and security of election officials as well as other election stakeholders, including voters, polling agents, election observers, the media and service providers.
“Security agencies should take adequate measures to forestall the recurrence of acts of voter suppression, disruption of voting, and outright violence experienced in some places during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Furthermore, the Situation Room calls on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure that they are non-partisan, professional and will avoid any actions capable of being interpreted as acting in support of any political interest.”
On the preparation of INEC, Obi, who is also the Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), said, “Situation Room also expects that the glitches that led to the malfunctioning of the INEC Result Viewing Portal (iReV) have been resolved, and that the issues that occasioned the inability of the commission to conduct elections in some polling units and late opening of polls in others have been addressed.
“In particular, the Situation Room calls on INEC to address the shortages in the number of ad hoc staff available for the elections, make adequate transportation arrangements, conduct additional training for the ad hoc staff, and promptly reconfigure and deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and other materials required for the elections and most importantly, ensure that it communicates in a timely manner to the public on any challenges or changes made to the electoral process.”
“The INEC should communicate with Nigerians. We are saying, let the process work. Nigerians should hold INEC accountable. Parties are reminded that there is a need to respect and abide by the peace accord signed by them. Situation Room will be tracking violent incidents across the States. Perpetrators and masterminds will be called out for investigations and punitive measures in line with Section 92 (5-8) of the Electoral Act 2022.”