Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Preliminary Statement by CLEEN Foundation on the Conduct of Security Officials during the Cross River State Gubernatorial Election held on Saturday, 25 February 2012


Introduction

CLEEN Foundation, with support from DfID’s Justice for All (J4A) Programme, observed the conduct of security officials during the gubernatorial election held in Cross Rivers State on 25th of February 2012. The observation exercise was the culmination of a number of activities targeted at contributing towards effective election security management. Prior to the election, CLEEN Foundation conducted a security threat assessment to identify the various factors and actors that might cause electoral violence before, during and after the election in the state and proposed ways of addressing the identified threats; organized a one day train the trainers training workshop on policing elections for all the Divisional Police Officers under the state command. As part of efforts to promote public awareness and oversight over police conduct on electoral duty, CLEEN Foundation published abridged versions of the Police Service Commission’s Guidelines for the Conduct of Police Officers on Electoral Duty in two national dailies before the election and also provided contact numbers for the call centre it had set up to collate complaints and incident reports from the public. For the election, it recruited, trained and deployed observers in all 18 local government areas (LGAs) in the state to observe the conduct of security operatives on election duty. The preliminary findings of CLEEN Foundation’s observation of the conduct of security officials during the election in Cross River State are presented in this statement.

Background
The Cross River State gubernatorial election was organized after the Supreme Court decision declared that the tenure of Governor Imoke, along with four other state governors, expired on May 29, 2011. Although the Cross River State does not have a history of electoral violence, the election was conducted amidst developments that appear to be overheating the political temperature of the state. This stems largely from disapproval by opposition candidates of the decision of INEC to change the date of the election from the earlier scheduled April to February 25, 2012 and uncertainties arising from the unceremonious and sudden removal of Senator Liyel Imoke from office as governor by the Supreme Court. The localization of the candidates from the zone and contiguous communities was also identified as a possible threat to security as electioneering issues could aggravate existing local political and conflict issues. Our assessment also found out that “peace tourism” is a potential source of threat to election security. The government is said to have succeeded in ensuring that activities of gangs and criminal groups are not reported in the media. Some of the riverine areas like Akpabuyo and Bakassi LGAs reportedly experience continuous raids by gangsters and militants that are not reported. Hence it could not be ruled out that some of the gangs may be mobilised to play a role in the elections. Also high level of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and lack of political consciousness in the state caused substantial concern as it made a vast majority of voters, particularly the youth, vulnerable to manipulation by the political class for selfish aims. This was the background against which the Cross River State election was conducted.

Observations

1.      As noted in previous elections, there was commendable security presence around the state capital and along the major roads in the state. There were also many stop and search units that scrutinized vehicles, motorcycles and other road users.
2.      It was general noticed that police officers accompanied INEC official to the polling stations and where at their respective polling station before 8:00 am in most cases.
3.      There was a commensurate and equitable deployment of security officials to various polling units within and outside the metropolis unlike in previous elections where the number of police in polling stations in the metropolis was considerably higher than in the rural areas.
4.      It was noticed that where security presence was absent in some polling stations in the early hours of the elections, the police command hastily made provision before long. This was noticed in Utanga 002 unit, Bessenga Customary Court, ward 10 in Obanliku local government areas; No 1 , 009 area 06 in Calabar South LGA, and in COE Garage, 009 Awi O2 in Akampa LGA.
5.      Our observers reported that police officers generally conducted them selves well with great foresight and professionalism. In Ikang Market Square/ 014, Ikang central Bakassi LGA, the police officers on duty were able to calm a group of young men who came in to disrupt the process.
6.      However, some police officers compromised their integrity by collaborating with party agents and presiding officers to allow election mal practices. This was the case with polling station No 0010 in Itigidi in Abi LGA, 002 Itigidi Abi LGA and in 009 Itigidi Abi LGA where police officers were visibly negligent at duty.
7.      Unlike in the Sokoto State gubernatorial elections where the activities of political thugs, popularly known as “area boys” posed serious challenges for security at the various polling units, as they were found smoking Indian hemp around the polling units and in other cases, they interfering with the voting process, in Cross River state the youths and other party supports generally were peaceful, thus facilitating the job of security officials.
8.      On the whole, security agents were observed to have conducted themselves professionally, applied proportional force only when necessary, acted impartially, were approachable, alert and also wore easily identifiable tags.

Recommendations

1.      INEC should continue to review its logistics deployment strategy and ensure that its staff and materials arrive at all designated polling units on time.
2.       The deployment of Security officials should be better coordinated and priority should be given to security presence at polling units over and above highways and roads.
3.      Security officials should be better remunerated in other to dissociate them from receiving money and other gifts from political parties during elections.
4.      Deserving officers should be remunerated while those that compromised should be heavily punished.
We congratulate INEC, the Nigeria Police Force, other security agencies and the good people of Cross River State for the peaceful conduct of the elections. We also thank the Justice for All (J4A) programme of the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) for its generous support towards the observation of this election.

The CLEEN Foundation is a non-governmental organization established in 1998 and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to promote public safety security and accessible justice. CLEEN Foundation is a member of several networks across the world and also has observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Signed
  
        Dr Eban Ebai
 Deputy Director Programmes
         CLEEN Foundation

Monday, 27 February 2012

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT BY CLEEN FOUNDATION ON THE CONDUCT OF SECURITY OFFICIALS DURING THE AHIAZU-EZINIHITTE MBAISE FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY RE-RUN ELECTION HELD ON 25TH FEBRUARY, 2012



INTRODUCTION
In accordance with its traditional  practice under every election in Nigeria, CLEEN Foundation during the Ahiazu-Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency re-run election held on 25th February, 2012 focussed attention on election security with a view to enhancing the effectiveness and accountability of security personnel on election duty especially members of the Nigeria Police. Imo State is a very important State for CLEEN Foundation because it hosts the Southeast regional office of the organisation. A substantial number of police officers including the entire CID personnel working under the Imo State Police Command had benefited from trainings organised by CLEEN Foundation in its Owerri office on human rights, conflict management, and policing in a democratic society. The trainings also captured duties and acceptable standards of behaviour expected of security officials during elections as stipulated under the Electoral Act and the PSC Guidelines for Conduct of Security Officers on Electoral Duty.

Two programs staffs of CLEEN Foundation in the Owerri office were duly accredited by INEC to observe the re-run election.  They acted as roving observers and were able to visit 12 polling stations during the course of the election.

BACKGROUND

In November, 2011 the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri nullified the April 14, 2011 National Assembly election for Ahiazu-Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency, whereof Hon. Nnanna Raphael Igbokwe of the PDP was declared the winner. The Court of Appeal upturned the earlier ruling of the Election Tribunal, which threw out the petition challenging the said election. The decision of the appellate Court was predicated on grounds that the Labour Party candidate, Ken Agbakwuru, was validly nominated but unlawfully excluded from the election.  The Court therefore ordered INEC to conduct re-run election in that federal constituency within 90 days from the date of the decision.
On Monday, 20th of February, 2012 INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Imo State, Prof. Selina Omagha Oko, at a stakeholders’ meeting held at Ahiazu Mbaise Council headquarters announced that the re-run election would be conducted on February 25, 2012. Eleven candidates were set to contest in the election including the ousted candidate of PDP and the Labour Party candidate excluded from the original election.

OBSERVATIONS

1.      There was heavy presence of security personnel within the Ahiazu-Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency, with several road blocks at strategic locations restricting unauthorised vehicular movements while scrutinizing every authorised road user to prevent any threat to the security of the election.

2.      There was an impressive turnout of voters in most polling stations visited. This was surprising given the fact that there was no restriction of movement or business in other parts of the State hence one had expected that most registered voters would rather be about their businesses and other activities than spend the entire day waiting to cast their votes.

3.      Most of the polling stations observed had at least two security personnel. However, there were instance of uneven distribution of security officers to the polling units. For instance in Umunumo Hall I & II, Ward 002 in Ahiazu Mbaise there were 7 security personnel contending with a voter population of less than 500 at the two units, whereas in  Umuasechariano Mbara Unit 006 in Mpam ward 009, there was only one female traffic police officer contending with a rowdy voter population of over 300, the other policeman was elderly and powerless in the situation.

4.      Generally election materials arrived before 8:30am in most of the polling units, which ensured early commencement of accreditation of voters. However, disorderly behaviours by voters and party agents in a few polling units, which could not effectively be controlled by Presiding Officers and security agents, slowed down the process of accreditation, hence actual voting did not start early enough in such Units. One such polling unit was Community Secondary School, Mpam I, Unit 003, Ward 009 in Ahiazu-Mbaise.

5.      Security personnel still had transportation challenges; hence some could not arrive at their assigned polling units before the start of accreditation. CLEEN Foundation roving observers had to give three police officers a ride in their vehicle to various polling stations.

6.      Party Agents were observed to be the cause of disorder in some polling Units. IN Community Secondary School Mpam II, Unit 004, Ward 009 a female agent of a political party created a problem by allegedly collecting money from some individual. A man who identified himself as a chief severally attempted to force himself into the classroom where voting was going on but was prevented by security personnel. The Presiding Officer suspended voting until the situation was brought under control.

7.      Security officials posted to polling centres were generally unarmed. Minimal use of force was also recorded across the local governments. At Okrika Ama Hall I & II Unit 004, Ward 05, Okrika Nwenkwo a policeman was seen with a gun in the midst of voters.

8.      In Community Secondary school, Nnemere, Unit 001, Ward 009 a policeman exhibited a high sense of maturity and professionalism in the way he handled a delicate crisis arising from the arrangement of the queue of voters by his colleague. He gently and politely explained to disgruntled voters that the arrangement would ultimately speed up the process. His gentle and polite explanation disarmed the angry voters and restored order in the polling station.

9.      Generally, in most cases, security operatives were observed to have conducted themselves professionally, applied minimal force when absolutely necessary, acted impartially, were approachable, alert and also wore easily identifiable tags.



RECOMMENDATIONS

1.      Training of security officers for electoral duty should be intensified to ensure that they are sufficiently at home with their duties during elections and internalise the Guidelines on the Conduct of Security Personnel on Electoral Duties.

2.      INEC should properly train and brief ad-hoc staff to avoid procedural hiccups that often lead to confusions with potentials for creating tension and possible break down of law and order.

3.      Adequate logistics should always be made available for the movement of security officers to their polling stations especially those deployed to polling units far from their places residence.

4.      Authorities of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies should work closely with INEC to understand the number of registered voters in various stations – the number of registered voters and the security antecedent of polling units should inform the decision on how many security agents should be deployed to each polling station.

5.      Presiding Officers and security agents should be empowered to exclude any party agent that behaves in a disorderly manner or incites such behaviour. INEC should also enjoin Parties to ensure that they appoint only responsible individuals as their agents or be held accountable for irresponsible conducts of such agents.



6.      Civil society, the media and political parties should prior to every election embark strategic non-violence sensitization programmes especially targeting youths.

We congratulate INEC, the Nigeria Police, other security agencies and the people of Ahiazu-Ezinihitte Federal Constituency for the peaceful conduct of the elections.   

The CLEEN Foundation is a non-governmental organization established in 1998 and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to promote public safety security and accessible justice. CLEEN Foundation is a member of several networks across the world and also has observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Signed


Francis Moneke, LLM (London)
Manager Owerri Officer, CLEEN Foundation


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Preliminary Statement by CLEEN Foundation on the Conduct of Security Officials during the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Election held on Saturday, 18 February 2012





Introduction

CLEEN Foundation, with support from DfID’s Justice for All (J4A) Programme, observed the conduct of security officials during the gubernatorial election held in Sokoto State on 18 February 2012. The observation exercise was the culmination of a number of activities targeted at contributing towards effective election security management. Before the election, CLEEN Foundation conducted a security threat assessment to identify the various factors and actors that might cause electoral violence before, during and after the election in the state and also proposed ways of addressing the identified threats. A week before the election, it also organized a one day training workshop on policing elections for all the Divisional Police Officers under the state command. As part of efforts to promote public awareness on what is required of security officials on electoral duty and encourage citizens to hold them accountable for their conduct, CLEEN Foundation published abridged versions of the Police Service Commission’s Guidelines for the Conduct of Police Officers on Electoral Duty in two national dailies before the election and also provided contact numbers for the call centre it had set up to collate complaints and incident reports from the public.  For the election, it recruited, trained and deployed observers in all 23 local government areas (LGAs) in the state to observe the conduct of security operatives on election duty. The preliminary findings of CLEEN Foundation’s observation of the conduct of security officials during the election in Sokoto State is presented in this statement.

Background

The Sokoto State gubernatorial election was organized following the Supreme Court decision which declared the tenure of Governor Aliyu Wamakko, along with four other state governors, as having expired on May 29, 2011. This election re-ignited internal divisions within the major political parties in the state. It also exposed the security challenge posed by the activities of political thugs, popularly known as ‘area boys’, whose presence across the state provide a ready tool for mischief-minded politicians to perpetrate electoral violence and fraud. More so, recent threats of alleged attack by the Islamic group, Boko Haram, also raised grave concerns for peace and security during the election. The high level of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and lack of political consciousness in the state caused substantial concern as it made a vast majority of voters, particularly the youth, susceptible to manipulation by the political class and predisposed them to offering their votes to the highest bidder and themselves as tools for capturing political power. This was the background against which the Sokoto state election was conducted.

Observations

1.      As noted in previous elections, there was commendable security presence around the state capital and along the major roads in the state. There were also many stop and search units that scrutinized vehicles, motorcycles and other road users.

2.      However, a commensurate deployment of security officials to various polling units outside the metropolis was lacking. There was generally poor security presence at polling units. While some polling station had at least 2 or more security officials posted there, some others had one, while some had none at all. Thus, there seemed to have been more security presence on the roads than at the polling units. For example, there was no security presence at Marafa 001 and Shiyari Barkiya 010 polling units both in Wurno LGA and at GDSS Gwadabawa 014 polling unit in Gwadabawa LGA.

3.      Crowd control remained a challenge for security operatives. In some polling units, there was just one security person posted there and the crowd was more than they could handle. This was the case at Sabon Gari filling Station ward 010 and Shiyar Rafi ward in Rabbah LGA, Shiyar Gawu polling unit 004 and Dogoh Fillin, Kwori area 001 both in Kwori LGA. At Bissalam model primary school, Fajaldu ward 04, Dange Shuni LGA, there was only one police officer and the Local government authority had to send two members of a vigilante group to assist him. Officials of the Nigeria Police Force were however seen roving around and tried to provide men in polling units where their attention was drawn to the lack of security presence.

4.      The presence and activities of political thugs, popularly known as “area boys” posed serious challenges for security at the various polling units. In several instances, they were found smoking Indian hemp around the polling units and in other cases, they interfered with the voting process and tried to disrupt it. For instance, at Binde Bakin Titi 002 polling unit in Dange Shuni LGA, there was only one security personnel when about 15 of these thugs arrived on 8 motorcycles and tried to disorganize the voting process by intimidating voters to support a particular political party. It took strong resistance by the voters, and no intervention by the security official, to drive them away and restore calm to the polling unit.

5.      We noted that most of the Youth Corp members serving as INEC ad hoc staff were apprehensive of the security situation around the polling units. A few of them did not have identification IDs while some refused to wear their complete Corper’s kit.

6.      More so, the language and cultural barrier hindered the effectiveness of some INEC ad hoc staff. Those who could not speak Hausa struggled to communicate with the voters. For example, at Shiyar Barade 008 polling unit, in Wamakko LGA, the ad hoc staff had to rely on the security official and party agents to communicate with the voters. At Leprosium 007 polling unit, Wamakko LGA the ad hoc staff were all male and the voters were predominantly women. The place remained rowdy and the ad hoc staff insisted that culture forbade them from controlling the women.

7.      One of the most worrisome observations was the presence of underage voters in several queues across the state. In most cases, both the INEC staff and the security officials did little or nothing about these children who all had voters cards. Also, the presence and threat of ‘area boys’ made it difficult to stop the under aged voters from voting. This was seen for example at Lambar Tureta-Asibiti 003 and Shiyar Rafi 001 polling units both in Tureta LGA and Tungar Magagi 006, in Wamakko LGA.

8.      There were still major logistics challenges in the field. In Arkilla Registration Area, Wamakko LGA, over 20 of the 37 wards did not have the original voters register (with pictures) and had to resort to manual registers. At Kware Road 007 polling unit, many people could not find their names in the manual register and they were allowed to write it manually and then vote. At Leprosium 007 polling unit, Wamakko LGA and several others, there were no cubicles and voting was done in a manner that compromised the secrecy of the ballot. The Mahotar Dantatumbi 003 polling unit in Sokoto North LGA was located in a small, open shop by the road. It had a total of 1198 registered voters and was chaotic throughout the election.

9.      Generally, security operatives were observed to have conducted themselves professionally, applied proportional force only when necessary, acted impartially, were approachable, alert and also wore easily identifiable tags. However, at Kilgori Model primary School 002 polling unit, Kilgori ward, Yabo LGA there was just one police officer posted there and he did not have an identifiable tag.

Recommendations
1.      INEC should thoroughly review its logistics deployment strategy and ensure that its staff and materials arrive at designated polling units on time.
2.      INEC should consider the cultural and linguistic peculiarities of the society when recruiting and deploying its ad hoc staff and should adequately train those recruited for election duties.
3.      INEC should also undertake a complete review of the voters register to reduce incidents of under aged registration and voting. It should also provide its staff with clear directives on how to handle issues of under aged voting and should deal with those found culpable.
4.      The deployment of Security officials should be better coordinated and priority should be given to security presence at polling units over and above highways and roads.
5.      Security officials should be given more training in crowd control and should be better equipped to manage conflict situations. Security personnel should be directed to arrest and prosecute political thugs irrespective of their sponsors.

We congratulate INEC, the Nigeria Police Force, other security agencies and the people of Sokoto State for the peaceful conduct of the elections. We also thank the Justice for All (J4A) programme of the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) for its generous support towards the observation of this election.

The CLEEN Foundation is a non-governmental organization established in 1998 and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to promote public safety security and accessible justice. CLEEN Foundation is a member of several networks across the world and also has observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Signed
Chinedu Yves Nwagu
Manager, Accountability and Justice

Thursday, 16 February 2012

SOKOTO STATE:Election Security Threat Assessment

Key Risk Factors:
·      Activities of political thugs popularly called ‘area boys’ in Sokoto state.
·      Perceived bias by security agencies in favour of the ruling party.
·      Internal divisionswithin major political parties, which may weaken their support base and increase the desire to rig.

Key Mitigation Factors:
·         Deployment of more security personnel to the state and better coordination among them.
·         Sustained media campaign against electoral violence by prominent citizens of the State.
·    Training of all Divisional Police Officers in the state on election security management by DFID's J4A programme. 


Introduction

General elections are usually a period of charged contest of ideas, followership and campaign funds. Disturbingly, elections have additional attribute in Nigeria - violence. Threats to public peace and security are a clear and present danger during elections in Nigeria,as desperate politicians resort to use of coercive forces within and often outside the framework of the state to gain undue advantage over their opponents. This remains a major concern in the build up to the forthcoming Sokoto State Gubernatorial Elections, scheduled to hold on February 18, 2012. In this threat assessment, the various factors that may engender electoral violence before, during and after the election are examined as well as the mitigating factors.

Brief History of Sokoto State


Sokoto has a history of pre-eminence that predate Nigeria. It was the headquarter of then Sokoto Caliphate in the 19th Century before colonial rule. However, Sokoto as a state was created in 1976 when then North-western State of Nigeria was split into two to create Sokoto and Niger States.  Sokoto Cityhas maintained its status as a state capital and the headquarter of Islamic faith in Nigeria,in spite of subsequent states' creation exercises by the military in 1991 and 1996, which led to the creation of Kebbi and Zamfara statesout of the old Sokoto State. The Stateis located at the uppermost part of North-western Nigeria near the confluence of Sokoto and Rima Rivers.  IT shares borders with two countries - Republic of Benin to the West and the Niger Republic to the North.  It also shares borders with Kebbi and Zamfara States.
There are 23 local government areas (LGA) in the State: Binji, Bodinga, Dange Shuni, Gada, Goronyo, Gudu, Gwadabawa, Ilela, Isa, Kebbe, Kware, Rabah, Sabon Birni, Shagari, Silame, Sokoto North, Sokoto South, Tambuwal, Tangaza, Tureta, Wammako, Wurno and Yabo.  These local government areas are grouped under three senatorial districts:

S/N
Senatorial District
Local government Areas in each district
1.
Sokoto North Senatorial District
Binji, Gudu, Kware, Sokoto North and Sokoto South, Silame, Tangaza and Wammako
2.
Sokoto East Senatorial District
Gada, Goronyo, Gwadabawa, Isa, Illela, Rabah, Sabon Birni and Wurno.
3.
Sokoto South Senatorial District
Bodinga, Dange Shuni, Kebbe, Shagari, Tureta, Tambuwal and Yabo. 



Politics in Sokoto State

The politics of Sokoto State (like other states in Nigeria) revolve around individuals rather than ideologies and political parties. Hence, fight for turf is a regular menu in electoral contestation.The return to civil rule in 1999 saw the All People’s Party (APP), which later became All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), winning the gubernatorial election in Sokoto, with Attahiru Bafarawa as the governor. He served for two four-year terms and by 2007 when he completed his tenure the ANPP had been weakened by infighting and internal division.

The dispute was largely between Bafarawa and his then deputy, Aliyu Wamakko over who should succeed him.Bafarawahad preferred then Secretary to Sokoto State Government (SSG), Muhammad Dingyadi to Wammako. Interestingly, the fractious battle eventually led to both of them leaving the ANPP to further their political ambitions elsewhere. Bafarawa left to form Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), when it became clear that he stood no chance of clinching the ANPP's presidential ticket against a towering figure like Muhammadu Buhari, former military Head of State and the party's flag bearer in 2003 presidential election. Wamakko, on his part, left to join forces with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), then a struggling party in the state though in control of the federal government and was presented as their gubernatorial candidate in the April 2007 elections. Wamakko's permutations worked ashe wonthe election and was sworn in. However, his political foes were not done with him as they successfully challenged his election at the electoral tribunal, which annulled it and ordered a rerun. Henot only wonthe rerun but also got a fresh term of four years via a Supreme Court ruling, which was later reversed in January 2012. While the fight for 2007 election lasted the Bafarawa and Wammako camps did not spare any weapons in trying to gain advantage including recruiting and armed young people notoriously called Areas boys in the fight. And with that, a seed of discord and violence was sownin the fourth republic politics of Sokoto State.

The forthcoming gubernatorial election has once again resurrected the political fight between Wamakko and Bafarawa. Even though Bafarawa is not a contestant, he had not hidden his interest in ensuring the defeat of Wamakko. In 2011 he joined Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) hoping to cash in on the initial indecision of the party in fielding a candidate for the April 2011 presidential election,but had to return to ANPP when he was disqualified by ACN. A move, many analysts in the state saw as an act of desperation.
As the date of the gubernatorial election draws near, a nagging problem has resurfaced with intensity  - the pervasive presence and use of Area Boys to break the rallies of opponents and attack their supporters. In a recent meeting the state's Interagency Consultative Committee on Election Security had with representatives of all political parties, the Sokoto State Commissioner of Police, Baba Adisa Bolanta, warned politicians in the state to desist from equipping the ‘area boys’ with ammunitions, saying they might turn against them in the nearest future. In his words: “You are buying machetes and other dangerous weapons for them (Area Boys) and they will turn into criminals and if they see you during their operations they will kill you too."


TheyArea Boysmove around the 23 local government areas of the state reportedly in full glare of security agencies, smoking Indian hemp and freely brandishing dangerous weapons, Axes, machetes, cutlasses, bow and arrows, swords and at times guns. Prominent citizens of the state, including the former president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar have spoken out against the menace of the Boys. During a courtesy call by the Acting Governor of the State,Alhaji Lawal Zayyana, The Sultan reportedly told him to 'as a matter of all urgency tackle the menace of the ... area boys.'  It is becoming clear that the Area Boys constitute a major threat to peaceful conduct of the February 18 election in Sokoto State, which should be dealt with.

Parties and Candidates in the Gubernatorial Election
Even though 28 political parties indicated interest in fielding candidates in the Sokoto State gubernatorial election to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), only threeare seen by analysts in the state as having the financial and followership muzzle to mount serious challenge for the office.
S/N
Political Party
Candidate
1.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko
2.
Congress for progressive Change (CPC)
Engineer Abubakar Yabo
3.
All Nigeria Peoples Party
Yushau Ahmed Kebbe

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, the candidate of the PDP,will be counting on his long stay in government as the Deputy Governor to Attahiru Bafarawa between 1999 and 2007, s governor between 2007 and 2012, and the dominance of the PDP in the State since 2007 and at the federal level since 1999. He will however have to contend with opposition from within his party. The party is dividedbetween those who joined with him in 2007 and those who describe themselves as foundation members of the party and have been around since 1999. There is also the grumbling of some civil servants who felt they were demoted unjustlybecause they walked under Bafarawa and those who felt their juniors had been promoted ahead of them since he became the governor.  It is feared that aggrieved elements within the PDP, who have formed three factions, might work against him, support the opposition or undermine public peace.

All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP)
The candidate of ANPP is Yushau Ahmed Kebbe, a former banker and businessman.  Though his party was in power in the state between 1999 and 2007, internal wrangling denied it the 2007 election and since then it has not really found its bearing. However, with the return of Bafarawa to the party, his alleged huge resource base and support of prominent businessmen in the state, many political analysts in the state argue that the party might have a good outing at the election. Furthermore, Yusha'u Kebbecould count on the structures of the ANPP in 23 local government areas of the state.  However, the support of Bafarawacould be a liability to him. Bafarawa is increasingly perceived as a political opportunist who could jump ship at the slightest noticeand therefore somebody that should not be taken seriously. There is also discontent around the conduct of ANPP's gubernatorial primary, which led some members to go to court requesting for an injunction to restrain Kebbefrom parading himself as the gubernatorial candidate of the party.

Congress for Progressive Change (CPC)
Engineer Abubakar Yabo is the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He was a Manager with the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and well regarded among the people because of his philanthropic disposition, which may count for him.  His party is also very popular among the common people and this could be the major asset of the candidate in the election.  However CPC is not as financially strong as its opponents and does not seem to have political structures in the 23 local government areas of the state.

Economy of Sokoto State  
Sokoto is essentially an agricultural state with traditional mode of production predominating and more than 90 percent of the population engaged in subsistence farming. The main crops produced in the State are millet, guinea corn, maize, rice, beans, wheat, cassava, potatoes, groundnut, cotton, sugar cane, and tobacco. Its traditional industries revolve around weaving dyeing and tanning. There are also agro-allied industries on wheat handling and processing, sugar refining, Leather and modern cement production factory. Efforts have made by successive governments in the state to modernize the economy encouraging mechanized farming and construction of dams for irrigation. However, these efforts appear not to have significantly addressed the problem of poverty and unemployment in the state.The 2010 Poverty Profile of Nigeria indicates that Sokoto State has the highest percentage of people leaving below poverty level. According to the reportslightly more than 4 out of every 5 persons in the state live below poverty level (81.9%). The consequence is that youth restiveness and violence expressed through activities such as the 'Area Boy' syndrome is on the rise and manyunscrupulous politicians take advantage of the situation to recruit them for electoral violence by mere promise of meals.

Synthesis of security threats
·         Resort to the services of thugs to secure electoral advantage over opponents.
·         History of factionalisation in Sokoto State politics whether in the ANPP or PDP and the feeling of exclusion of some contestants and lack of transparency in the conduct of the primary gubernatorial primary;
·         High level of poverty and lack of political consciousness of the workings of modern democracy, especially among the uneducated youth.  The excruciating economic deprivation of this group may predispose them to offer their services for political violence to politicians desperate to capture power through political fraud;
·         Alleged threat of Boko Haram to attack the state, which poses a serious concern to the conduct of a peaceful election;
·         The inability of the security forces to arrest and prosecute the area boys because of fear that they are connected to powerful political forces.
·         Perceived bias of security agencies in favour of the ruling party.

Threats mitigation factors
·         Improved confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as reasonably impartial in the conduct of the elections with supervision national officials.
·         Improved coordination and cooperation among law enforcement and security agencies inproviding election security through the work of the Interagency Consultative Committee on Election Security.
·         Decision to withdraw police orderlies from elected and other officials during elections thereby preventing egregious misuse.
·         Training of all Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers in the State on election security by the DFID's Justice for All (J4A) through the CLEEN Foundation.

Conclusion and Recommendations
The major threat to the conduct of a violence-free and peaceful election in Sokoto State on February 18, 2012, is the activities of area boys who are easily used by evil-minded politicians to perpetrate electoral violence and fraud.  The simmering discontent within leading political parties is another potential threat coupled with the poor socio-economic status of most of the youth and perception of bias among security personnel and the Boko Haram threat.The following steps are therefore recommended to ensure peaceful conduct of the election:
·         Security agencies need to demonstrate and make statements that will establish them as neutral and non-partisan in the conduct of the gubernatorial elections.  The declaration by the Sokoto State Police Command of its readiness to arrest and prosecute area boys is a reassuring statement that needs to be observed to the letter as to serve as a deterrent;
·         Security agencies must learn to adhere to the guidelines developed by the Police Service Commission for police officers on electoral duty by being punctual, professional, effective and impartial in implementation of the law;
·         The security services should map potential areas of security threat and organise their officers to respond to such areas rapidly;
·         The appeal by prominent personalities to politicians and the youth to shun violence should be sustained, as the Sultan has been doing;
·         INEC must be seen to be an impartial umpire in the conduct of the elections.  It must continue to work and earn the trust and confidence of the aspirants and the parties in the gubernatorial election.  It needs to continue to maintain its practice of transparency. 

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