Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Preliminary Statement by CLEEN Foundation on the Conduct of Security Officials during the Adamawa State Gubernatorial Election held on Saturday, 4 February 2012


Introduction

The CLEEN Foundation, in keeping with its commitment to contribute towards elections security by promoting effective and accountable policing of elections observed the conduct of security officials during the Adamawa state gubernatorial election held on Saturday 4 February 2012. Building up to this exercise, CLEEN Foundation in collaboration with DfID’s Justice for All (J4A) programme, organized a one-day training workshop on policing elections for Divisional Police Officers under the Adamawa State Command. It also recruited, trained, mobilized and deployed roving observers in all the 21 local government areas in the state. To also engage the public in this exercise and promote civic awareness on what is required of security officials on election 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 elections. The publication also provided contact numbers for the call centre it had set up to collate reports from the public on incidents from the election.  This statement presents the preliminary findings of CLEEN Foundation observers on the conduct of security officials during the gubernatorial election in Adamawa State.

Background
Following a recent decision of the Supreme Court overturning the tenure elongation of the incumbent governor of Adamawa State and declaring it to have terminated on May 29, 2011, the Speaker of the House of Assembly was sworn in as acting governor of the state. This election was organized against the backdrop of political tensions and general insecurity prevailing in Northern Nigeria. It had been postponed twice because of the security concerns in the state. Leading up to the election, some issues were noted as possible challenges to the peaceful conduct of the election. First, the state’s history of ethnic and religious tensions was worsened by the recent sectarian killings which resulted in the imposition of a curfew in the state. Second, the popularity of the three leading candidates and the followership they command across the northern and southern parts of the state. Third, the high level of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy among a large number of youths makes them vulnerable to manipulation. Fourth, there are a significant number of influential politicians in the state who could influence the outcome of the polls. Lastly, the fractionalization in the ruling party in the state and removal of the incumbent governor might increase the desperation to try and manipulate the electoral process.

Observations
1.      There was commendable presence of security operative within the State capital Yola, and on other major roads in the state. Police Stop and search posts were mounted and effectively scrutinized vehicles, motor bicycles and other road users.
2.      The deployment of security officers across the state, particularly to polling centres was also commendable. Most voting centres had at least two security personnel on duty. This is a marked improvement from what had obtained in previous elections. There was still more concentration of security presence in the urban areas, but it was not at the cost of securing the suburban and rural areas.
3.      Across the state, most security personnel arrived the polling centres before 8am and unlike in previous elections, they arrived with the INEC staff and the materials. However, In Wuro Mala 005 polling centre, Jeranbonyo ward, Girei LGA, security agencies also arrived very late though this did not disrupt the election process.
4.      There were some cases of delays by INEC in getting materials and its ad hoc staff to some polling stations. At Jibiro Gadawalwal 005, Wuro Dole ward, Girei LGA, INEC ad hoc staff arrived a bit late and this, coupled with issues of competence, created some security challenges as voters who had turned out early became agitated and started suspecting foul play. At Kofar Lawalu 001 polling station, Girei ward 1, Girei LGA, the accreditation and voting process was very slow and complaining voters almost disrupted the process but security officials were able to manage the situation.
5.      INEC staff should also be given very clear instructions and training on how to manage procedural irregularities and possible conflict situations. For instance, In Kufar Unit 10, Demsa LGA and at Yolde Kohi Pry school, Yolde Kohi ward, Yola South LGA, some dispute arose when persons who had allegedly misplaced their voters’ card wanted to vote and were refused by the Presiding Office. The intervention of the police saved the situation. Also, decision as to what should be done to un-used ballot papers caused some disturbances at Gwadabawa ward, Yola North.
6.      Following the directives issues during the general elections, security officials posted to polling centres were generally unarmed. Minimal use of force was also recorded across the state. However, the presence of armed police personnel was reported to had scared off some voters, particularly women, from polling units at Mazo Balewa local government area in polling unit 003.
7.      Crowd control remains a challenge for security officials on elections duty. In Hong local government area, at Shamgui Mbuve polling unit, there was report that the crowd there were much but there was only one police personnel on ground.
8.      In some instances, security agencies were successful in dealing with some conflict situations but failed in others. Examples are, at the polling centre in Atiku Primary school, Sambo ward, in Songo LGA an attempt by youths to disrupt the voting process was thwarted by the deployment of more police personnel to the polling unit. However, pre-existing community tensions led to fighting at the polling centres in Gandira primary school, Dirbishi ward, in Mubi-South LGA.  But in spite of interventions by security and INEC officials, the crisis continued until the election was eventually cancelled there. Also, at Alkalawa Ward, in Yola North, an immigration officer tried to arrest a man on the voting queue alleging that he is a foreigner. She called her colleagues to come and pick the man but the angry crowd refused them from arresting him. At the end, the immigration officers were beaten up and the alleged immigrant was freed along with others that were brought there by the immigrations officers.
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.

Recommendations
1.      The competence of INEC ad hoc staff remains an issue. INEC should ensure it trains and retrains its staff deployed on elections duty.
2.      INEC should continue to improve upon its logistics arrangement so as to ensure their ad hoc staffs get to their places of assignment on time.
3.      Security agencies should commend its staff for good conduct and should also investigate complaints of impropriety where they arise so as to strengthen their operations and public confidence in the integrity of their institutions.
4.      The directive prohibiting armed security officials at polling stations should be reinforced while armed patrol teams should be strengthened to help control conflict situations
5.      Security officials should be given more training in crowd control and should be better equipped to manage conflict situations. They can partner civil society groups in this regard.

We congratulate INEC, the Nigeria Police Force, other security agencies and the people of Adamawa 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.

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