Friday, 30 September 2016

Preliminary Statement on the Conduct of Security Agencies during the September 28th Gubernatorial Election in Edo State

Introduction:

In line with its commitment to contributing to effective election security management, the CLEEN Foundation, with support from the Department for International Development through Policy Legislative Advocacy Centre (PLAC) observed the conduct of security officials during the Edo state gubernatorial election held on Wednesday 28 September 2016. As done in previous elections across the country since 2011, CLEEN Foundation implemented a number of integrated activities aimed at promoting public safety, security and ensuring that law enforcement officials deployed for election duty are of professional conduct during the election.

Firstly, it recruited, trained and deployed field workers across the 18 LGA in the state for pre-election security assessment using the Election Violence Mitigation Tool, a standardized tool developed by the Electoral Institute of INEC and CLEEN Foundation aimed at predicting the possibility of violence during the election..  The field work was done between 9th – 11th August, 2016 and the findings of the research was released on 5th September, 2016 to the various key electoral stakeholders and the general public at Vichi Gates Hotel, Benin City, Edo state.

Secondly, it produced a pre-election security threat assessment identifying potential security risks, flashpoints for violence and mitigating factors to identified threats. The finding of this assessment was made public at a press conference organized for media, civil society groups, security agencies, INEC and other relevant stakeholders on Monday 5th September, 2016 in Benin City, Edo State. This was shared broadly with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force, other security agencies and civil society groups.

Lastly, CLEEN Foundation recruited and trained 18 observers, 5 rovers and 3 call centre managers on their roles, responsibilities and expectations on Tuesday 27th September, 2016. The observers were deployed to each of the 18 LGA in Edo state to specifically observe the conduct of security agencies on election duty. The observation was done using 11 standardized indicators of assessment/Police Service Commission Guidelines for the Conduct of Police Officers on Electoral Duty. This report presents the findings of CLEEN Foundation observation on the conduct of security services during the just concluded gubernatorial election in Edo State.

Background
The gubernatorial election conducted in Edo was contested by candidates of 19 political parties. However, it was essentially seen as a race between the candidates of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC). All other parties were relegated to the background giving room to the two major parties to slug it out between themselves. The shameful show of desperation engaged in by both political parties saw them engaged in hateful campaigns which gave Edo politics a disdainful look. Supposed opinion leaders were busy throwing tantrums at each other, fanning the embers of hate and dislike for each other which went further to create more tension before the elections.
A number of likely threats to security were further identified as the elections were going on. These included unguarded statements, inflammatory and inciting comments by political gladiators in the state, perceived acts of prejudice or bias by security agents in favour or against any of the contestants, lack of adequate welfare for security personnel on election duty, financially induced voting process and pockets of violence recorded in various polling unit in the state.  

Observations

1.      Security Presence in the State and Polling Units: CLEEN Foundation observed heavy deployment of security personnel across the state for the election. These include: officers of the Nigeria Police and other sister agencies (DSS, Military, Civil Defense, Customs, Immigration, Road Safety etc). The security officials were divided into three groups: Escort for electoral officials and materials, stationary security personnel and patrol/emergency response team. They provided security for INEC officials, sensitive and non-sensitive materials, maintained law and order at the polling centres and units, responded to emergency situation that were beyond the capacity of stationary security officials; mounted road blocks, conducted stop and search and patrolled various polling centres and units.  Generally, this was observed but there were a few situations where electoral materials left distribution centres with little or no security officials. This was observed in Oredo, Ovia north east ward 6 and Igueben LGA.

2.      Deployment of Security Personnel: Civilian friendly unarmed security personnel were deployed within the polling units while armed personnel deployed were visible around the premises. Overall, an average number of 5 security officials were deployed in each of the polling units covered.
There was 99% presence of 3 or more security personnel in every polling unit across the various Local Government Areas in the state. We commend the security agencies for the synergy in deployment.

3.      Conduct of Security Personnel during the Election: Reports from across the areas observed indicated that most security officials on election duty carried out their duties in a very professional and commendable manner. They were alert, impartial, approachable and coordinated.  For instance, confiscating arms and dangerous weapons from party thugs in Fugar, Ward 5, Unit 2 Etsako Central, Rescuing observers from violent elements/political thugs in, Stopping vote buying and monetary inducement at Etsako Central Ward 5 Unit 2 and Esan North East Ward 9 Unit 5; even in the face of harassment, they remained calm and refused to be provoked. This was observed at Ward 7, PU 005, Uhunmwunode LGA. Their swift response to emergencies is commendable for instance in Esan North East where some thugs forced people to vote for a party. In places were crowd management became a challenge, they were able to call for back up from the response team. However, a few incidents were reported such as facilitating vote buying, sloppy approach to duty, drinking alcohol on duty, an obvious display of partisanship, soliciting (begging) for funds, confiscating phones of voters who tried to record intra-party fighting at Garrick Memorial Secondary School, Unit 33 Ward 2 Oredo LGA; security personnel attached to a political appointee snatched a ballot box and electoral materials in ward 1 Unit 3, Emokhueme community, Etsako East LGA.      

About 92% of the security personnel were observed to be approachable















Early arrival of security personnel at various polling units was observed. 75% of the security personnel arrived before 7:00am, 17% arrived before 8:00am while 8% arrived 9:00am and above















91% unarmed security personnel were observed at the polling units and only 9% armed security were seen in the polling units.











About 91% of the security personnel were observed to be of good conduct. However, they were helpless and only watched as party agents induced voters with money as well as some security personnel whose welfare were not provided for before being deployed for the election work.













4.      Welfare of Security Personnel: The provision of adequate welfare for security officials on election duty remains a pressing challenge. Despite the promise and assurances by the Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police in Edo State concerning the total welfare of officers on election duty, fulfillment of this promises fall far short of expectations.  It was a pitiable, sight-seeing these gallant and zealous officers on duty looking weak, pale, hungry and famished. For instance, a military man was seen holding a bottle of water which he said was the only thing he had all day and which he confirmed was given to him by a passer-by. Most of the officers complained of having to pay their way to their duty posts. We observed that many spent the previous nights in open primary schools in and out of town without feeding allowances.  This makes them increasingly vulnerable to compromise and should be addressed urgently.


6.      Activities of Party Agents/Thugs: The unlawful activities of some party agents, political thugs and loyalists remain worrisome. Their main roles at the election were to facilitate vote buying under the watchful eyes of security agencies that appeared helpless due to their poor welfare. This activity was carried out in the open and in a very brazen manner. This should be condemned by all stakeholders.   


Recommendations

1.      Logistics: Leadership of security services 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;

2.      Welfare: The issue of welfare of the officers has remained a challenge, their allowances, accommodation, feeding and communication should be taken care of even before deployment;

3.      Training and Retraining of Security Officials on Election Duty: There was high level of improvement in the conduct of INEC and security officials due to training of the personnel organized by INEC and civil society groups;  

4.      Commendation for INEC Officials: It was visible in the enhanced performance of INEC staff in the performance of their electoral duties. The training and effective deployment of INEC ad hoc staff and materials are commendable and should be sustained and improved upon;

5.      Card Reader: There should be sustained efforts to resolve all issues around the malfunctioning of card reader and thump prints;

6.      Deployment of Security Services: The deployment strategy for security services on electoral duty should be revised and improved upon to ensure adequate coverage of polling units and hotspots;

7.      Revival of IACCES: There is an important need for the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security to be revived and ensure synergy and delivery on results by the agencies;

8.      Prosecution of Electoral Offenders: INEC and law enforcement agencies should take steps to stop the unprecedented level of monetization of election hold perpetrators accountable for this criminal conduct. They should put an end to impunity for electoral offences by arresting and prosecuting offenders.


We commend the efforts of INEC, the Police and other security services towards ensuring that the Edo gubernatorial election was peaceful and successful. We also congratulate the people of Edo State for their peaceful conduct during the election and after the release of the results. We appreciate the generous support of the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) through Policy and Legislative Advocacy Centre (PLAC) 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. For more information please visit www.cleen.org

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