The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) and coalition of human rights groups in the South East has urged security agencies and stakeholders in the Anambra State governorship election to ensure that the November 17 poll is free and fair.
The group in a statement on Wednesday signed by the Board Chairman of Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalasi, said that making Anambra 2017 Governorship Election secured, popularly participated, conclusive, free and credible is the collective concern and expectation of all Nigerians, our organizations and members of the international community.
The rights group said that anything short of that would not augur well for the people and for the electoral process in Nigeria.
“The end product of every popular election especially in developing countries such as Nigeria and Anambra State is not to escalate and proliferate the number of armed combatants and weapons deployed for poll security or engage in alarmist media noises and military/security show of strength or force in the pages of newspaper and other mass media; but ability of the election organizers and poll security providers to demilitarize the already psychologically militarized and apprehensive voting population. This is done by tactical and forensic poll securitization.
“One of the major failures of election conductors and poll security providers, till date, in Nigeria is the absence of electronic voting and its simplified methodologies. Had Nigeria joined other global societies in the institutionalisation of electronic voting side by side with manual voting; flooding of electoral arenas with war combatants and weapons as well as their media hypes would have been drastically reduced, if not totally out-fashioned.The group, therefore, enumerated what it termed would be the duties of the stakeholders as follows:
• Duties Before Anambra REC & His Co-Poll Handlers
• Ensure maximum safety of all sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials for the all-important Poll.
• Monitor your entire subordinate staffs and key non-staff or ad hoc INEC officials especially INEC substantive staffs such as SPOs (Supervising Presiding Officers), APOs (Assistant Presiding Officers), POs (Presiding Officers 1, 2, 3, etc) as well as storekeepers and those in charge of ICT and operations.
• Ensure that inks brought for the poll are not exchanged or replaced in whole or in part with fake INEC inks reportedly imported and smuggled or about to be smuggled into the Commission in Anambra by malicious and desperate candidates; designed to fade or erase and disappear from thumb-printed ballot papers few hours after being thumb printed on ballot papers by voters so as to produce massive “invalid votes” against the targeted candidates during the ballot counting; especially in the affected candidates’ strongholds.
• Ensure that all INEC inks are test-run routinely and specifically few hours before their deployment to all the 4,608 polling booths in the State and in the presence of security agents and party agents.
• Ensure simultaneous, speedy and timely delivery of sensitive and non sensitive poll materials and personnel to all the 4,608 polling booths in Anambra State.
• Ensure the deployment of three functional and fully powered card readers to each of the State’s 4,608 polling booths; to serve as effective “option B” where they fail in their area and period of use.
• Ensure that the card reader handlers are well trained and properly oriented.
• If possible, revert to “accreditation, vote and wait” policy for prospective voters with their specified timing; or if “simultaneous accreditation and voting” is the Commission’s new mandatory policy; then voters must be allowed to stay on till polling booth counting and announcement of result is completed.
• Avoid unnecessary delays in the commencement of voting at polling booths so as to avoid generating tensions and causing of breach of peace.
• Place out-right ban on sale and distribution of foods or sharing of cash around polling booths and ensure their full enforcement using manual and electronic security arrangements such as use of security personnel and security cameras and non State actor mobile communications.