*Says Political thugs, hate speech may trigger violence
A civil Society Organization, CLEEN Foundation, has called on the federal government to desist from deploying the
military for the upcoming Edo State gubernatorial election slated for September 19, 2020.
Dr. Benson Oluigbo, Executive Director, CLEEN foundation, warned that deploying the military would lead to militarisation of the state and exacerbate voter apathy.
Oluigbo advised government to rather issue a strong worded pronouncement indicating its commitment to peaceful
elections in the State, and encouraging governorship contestants and their
supporters to abide by electoral act.
Oluigbo made this call during a virtual Public Presentation of Findings of CLEEN Foundation Security Threat Assessment Towards the 2020 Governorship Election in Edo State.
“Everyone of looking towards a free and fair elections and it’s important that we give them that, government owe the people that”, Oluigbo said.
Meanwhile, findings from the threat assessment report by Mr. Freedom Onuoha, University of Nigeria Nsukka, found that political thugs and hate speech are the biggest risk factors that could trigger electoral violence in the state.
Onuoha said event though 76.7% of respondents are optimistic that the the 2020 off-cycle gubernatorial election in Edo state will be peaceful, experts are however concerned that the tendency of electoral violence is significant if not high.
He disclosed that 78.9% of the respondents fear hate speech could threaten the security of the forthcoming election, while 74.9% say the tendency for ‘voter importation’ – hiring and transporting of persons including; thugs, from neighboring states to disrupt the election constitute a potential risk factor to the security of the upcoming elections.
Other risk factors highlighted by the threat assessment include; drug Abuse and the exclusion of youths and other age groups, Onuoha said that 79.8% of the respondents agree that the abuse of controlled and substances by youth in Edo State, and the environment with endemic cultism, is a major risk to the security of the upcoming elections.
He listed other notable hotspots to include Ilushi and Ozigolo – Esan Southeast LGA, Obazangbon – Uhunmwonde LGA, and Ujemen, Iruekepen and Emado – Esan West LGA.
Also, he said the potential conflict stemming from political exclusions of minorities and marginalized groups especially women and youths constitutes a risk factor and may threaten the security of the upcoming election.
Furthermore, he said the partiality of INEC Officials in terms of the election management, and the lack of synergy among security agents could result in violence. 79.7% of the respondents perceive the partiality of INEC officials, while 85.7% highlighted the partiality of the security agents.
The Nigeria Police Force however assured that the elections in Edo and Ondo will be neutral and transparent.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Markus Ishaku, from the Complaints Response Unit (CRU), Force Headquarters Abuja, while speaking during the virtual presentation, said the force is not taking the elections lightly and has subsequently deployed massive number of personnel including senior officers.
“We are passionate about the transparency and to provide a level playing field, we want to ensure that votes will actually count. The police is sending large human assets from Abuja so as not to compromise the proces due to familiarity.
“With what I have seen, the massive deployment of officers and the category of officers that are going to prosecute the security architecture, I’m persuaded that nothing short is expected”, he said.