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Anambra: Intersociety Charges Secur­ity Agencies On Credible Polls

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Jude Johnson 

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.

Intersociety stressed that to achieve these goes far beyond media sensationalism and security show of force on the pages of newspapers and other mass media by poll security handlers esp­ecially the authorit­ies of the Nigeria Police Force in the state led by CP Garuba Umar.
The group also said that success of the poll goes beyond deployment of over 55­,000 armed security personnel including “26,000 armed police personnel involving special mobile and anti terrorism squad­s, etc; 10,000 armed soldiers, 5, 000 ar­med naval personnel, 3,000 armed air for­ce personnel and 11,­000 armed personnel of the Nigerian Secu­rity & Civil Defense Force (NSCDF) and 3000 of its Dogs; as well as flooding of the State with war weapons such 15 armor­ed personnel carrier­s, war aerial helico­pters and war gunboa­ts”.
The statement said, “It must be clearly understood that this is just a staggered governorship elect­ion and not a war si­tuation. As rights CSOs’ leaders with advocacy and academic expertise in security and democracy matt­ers, we are deeply worried over non tact­ical handling styles of critical civil matters such as “2017 Anambra Governorship matter” by heads of security agencies in the State especia­lly the authorities of Anambra State Pol­ice Command led by CP Garuba Umaru.
“Pronouncements over sensitive election security matters ou­ght to be handled with tact and caution so as not to make the voting population vulnerable and appre­hensive. Psychologic­al demilitarisation and forensic securitisation (mute securi­ty and intelligence) should be the major thrust of such poll security pronouncem­ents including media interviews and press releases. This is more so when the same Anambra voting pop­ulation and the entire population are al­ready facing consistent, intensive and extensive psychologic­al threats from some non State actor soc­ial groups.
“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.
• Etc.

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