Monday, 18 November 2013

Preliminary Statement by CLEEN Foundation on the Conduct of Security Officials during the Anambra State Gubernatorial Election Held on Saturday, 16 November 2013

The CLEEN Foundation, with support from the Justice for All (J4A) Program of DFID observed the conduct of security officials during the Anambra state gubernatorial election held on Saturday 16 November 2013. This is in keeping with its commitment to contribute towards efficient elections security management by promoting effective and accountable policing of elections in Nigeria. As done in previous elections across the country since 2011, CLEEN Foundation implemented a number of integrated activities aimed at contributing to public safety and security during the election in Anambra State. First, it conducted a pre-election security threat assessment to examine and identify potential security risks, flashpoints and highlight mitigating factors to those threats. The finding of this assessment was shared broadly with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force, other security agencies and civil society groups. Second, it organized a one day training workshop on election security management for all the Divisional Police Officers and other senior officials under the Anambra state police command. This workshop provided a forum to share useful ideas on how to effectively police the election, deploy security personnel, especially around identified high risk areas, and generally ensure safety throughout the exercise. Third, it published abridged versions of the Police Service Commission’s Guidelines for the Conduct of Police Officers on Electoral Duty in two national dailies, widely read in the State. The publications also contained the contact numbers for the call centre it had set up to collate complaints and incident reports from the public on the conduct of security officials during the election. Lastly, CLEEN obtained accreditation from INEC, recruited, trained and deployed observers in all 21 local government areas (LGAs) in Anambra state to observe the conduct of security operatives on election duty. This statement sums up the preliminary findings of that observation exercise.

The Anambra State gubernatorial election was contested by candidates from 23 political parties. The election was however mostly perceived as mostly a race between four parties/candidates; Willie Obaino of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Chris Ngige of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah of Labour Party, and Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The election was also seen as a test case for the 2015 election in many ways. Though Anambra State does not have a history of violent elections,  some key threats to security during the elections were identified including the perceived influence of the ruling party in favor of its candidate and desperation by opposing candidates to undermine it, the overbearing influence of political godfathers in the state, executing of malpractices perfected at the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) stage, possible mobilization of students’ gangster (cult) groups or vigilante groups and difficult terrain in some riverine parts of the state. INEC and security agencies reassured citizens of Anambra State of their preparedness to conduct credible elections in the state in a safe and secured atmosphere. Soldiers, police and other security officials were accordingly deployed in significant numbers across the state for the election.

1.        Security Presence in the State: Across the state, there was significant security presence before and during the election. Armed police and military personnel were seen at stop and search units along major roads and in patrol vans across this state. Generally, no major incidents were recorded and their presence did not hinder the process, rather it helped to reinforce feelings of security around the election.
2.       Deployment and Welfare of Security Personnel: The military, police and other security agencies deployed sizable number of personnel for the elections. Generally, the deployment of security personnel to polling stations was well coordinated as most polling units had at least 2 security agents. But this was peculiar to urban areas. Some polling units in the rural area did not have any security presence at all, and in other cases the officers arrived very late. Requests had to be made to the police command to send officials there. Also, most police officers at the polling units complained of lack of provision of accommodation, feeding and transportation for them. This was most common amongst police officers deployed from Imo, Lagos, Osun and Kwara states, some having arrived Anambra on Monday 11 November, 2013 and have had to sleep in empty school buildings.
3.       Conduct of Security Personnel during the Election: Most polling units had one or two security officials posted there. However, they were more crowded in urban areas as in previous elections. But in spite of the logistics challenges, security officials, especially the police, conducted themselves professionally. They were commendably alert, approachable and impartial. However, there were some reports of police officers who were slightly drunk or seen drinking during the election. This is in clear contravention of their Code of Conduct and should be addressed accordingly. It was also observed that members of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria were also part of security deployed to some polling units (often where there are fewer officials of formal security agencies). This shows that there is increasingly open space for collaboration between the formal and informal policing groups in the country, provided there is a framework for collaboration and partnership.
4.      Deployment of Election Logistics: Deployment of election logistics remains a major and recurring challenge for INEC, even in successive staggered elections. With the late arrival of materials and INEC staff in several polling units, and unavailability of names in the voters register, security officials had to work really hard to maintain law and order in polling units. 
5.       Activities of Party Agents: The unlawful activities of some party loyalists, and political figures in the state also posed security challenges during the election. For instance, at Polling Unit 002, Ward I, Anaocha LGA, party bigwigs were seen campaigning for votes. At Polling Unit 09, Ward I, Awka North LGA, party members were seen inducing people and giving money after verifying with party agents on who they voted for. This caused some chaos, as was recorded in some other places.

1.        INEC should move beyond rhetoric and comprehensively review its logistics deployment strategy before every election to ensure that materials and persons arrive early at the various units.
2.       INEC should also take harmonization of the voters register and Continuous Voters Registration more seriously to reduce incidents of missing photos, names etc.
3.       The early recruitment, training, retraining and effectively deployment of INEC ad hoc staff is should be prioritized.
4.      Security agencies are urged to plan ahead of each election and ensure adequate logistics provision for personnel it will be deploying to cater for their welfare while on electoral duty and minimize their vulnerability to compromise.
5.       The Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry of Police Affairs and the National Orientation Agency are urged to widely disseminate the Code of Conduct for the Police. The Police Service Commission should also take disciplinary measures against erring officials identified during elections.
6.      Mapping, identifying and capacity building for informal policing groups should be considered in order to strengthen community participation in election security management.
7.       INEC and law enforcement agencies should take immediate steps to put an end to impunity for electoral offences by arresting and prosecuting offenders.

We acknowledge the efforts of INEC, the Police and other security agencies towards ensuring that the Anambra gubernatorial election was successful. We urge that the efforts be sustained and improved upon.  We congratulate the people of Anambra State for their peaceful conduct during the election and urge that public safety should be maintained within the state after the release of the final results. 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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