As in every election since 2003, CLEEN Foundation deployed observers during the 2015 gubernatorial and state houses of assembly elections held on Saturday April 11, 2015. With support from Justice for All (J4A) Program of UK Department for International Development (DFID), CLEEN Foundation recruited, trained and mobilised a team of five hundred and twelve election observers to observe the conduct of security personnel in order to assess their effectiveness and adherence to the benchmark of acceptable behaviour. Furthermore, the Foundation printed and circulated posters and flyers of the abridged version of the Police Service Commission’s Guidelines for the Conduct of Security Personnel on Election Duty with the aim of enlightening the police and the general public in this important exercise of ensuring effective and accountable policing during elections. This information, education and communication materials provided the public with hot-lines for complaints, report and commendation on the general conduct of the security personnel and the election proceedings in general.
This interim report presents a summary of our findings based on our observation of the 2015 Gubernatorial Elections.
a) Punctuality and adequacy of officers
Compared to the 2011 general elections, there was a marked improvement in the arrival of security officials at their designated polling units; before 8:00am when they opened: 80% of security officials had already reported at their posts and 4% arrived at 9:00am or thereafter. Furthermore, nearly a half of the observed polling units (48%) had three or more security officials in attendance. Another third of the polling units (34%) had two officers while 18% had one official.
In 69% of the units, security officials remained at their post throughout the day, however, in 31% of the units, officers left for brief period, to ease themselves (64%); eat (29%) and for other reasons (7%).
b) Civility and impartiality of officers
In 95% of the units observed, security officials were described as very approachable and approachable, only in 5% of units were they described as somewhat approachable. Furthermore, in 97% of the polling units, officers wore name tags that were easily identifiable to observers. Officers were described as impartial in 94% of the units. At the close of polls, security officials were reported to have provided escort for the election materials to the collation centres in 90% of the polling units.
c) Orderliness and feeling of safety at the polling units
Orderliness and crowd control are essential to the election process. Observers described 89% of the polling unit as orderly. Consequently, 89% of the polling units were observed to be safe and secure. However, some polling units in Rivers, Edo, Imo, Akwa Ibom, and Abia were observed to be insecure. In 98% of the polling units, security officials complied with the instructions of presiding officers. Incidents which threaten the security of the polling unit were reported in 16% of the observed units. Observers also reported that the incidents which arose were well handled (78%) by the security officials present.
d) Use of Force
There was no use of force in 87% of the units. However, in 11% of the units, the use of force by security officials was observed; an increase of 5% compared to the trend observed during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections. Security officials bearing firearms were sighted in 11% of the polling units.
e) Overall Assessment of the Conduct of Security Officials at the Polling Unit
In the light of the findings above, the conduct of the security officials during the elections were judged as good in 88% of the polling units by the observers.
Highlights of insecurity and misconducts at Polling Units
In spite of the satisfactory conduct of security personnel, cases of insecurity and misconduct were observed in some polling units, some of which are highlighted below:
· Ballot snatching, illegal possession of ballot papers and result sheets across the country, including snatching of result sheets and attack on voters by a retired senior police officer in Urukaman LGA, Akwa Ibom.
· Cases of murder in several states including Rivers, Imo, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Lagos.
· Arson in a few states including Rivers and Ebonyi
· Violent attacks and intimidation by thugs in many states across the country.
· Killing and assault of security agents by thugs.
· Violence in polling units across Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Katsina states.
· Isolated incidences of security officers killing thugs at polling units for example, in Ali- Kazaure Ward, Jos in Plateau state and Bayan-Dutse in Zuru LGA of Kebbi state where three people were reportedly killed by soldiers.
· Inducement of voters with money, food and other materials within polling units.