The European Union (EU) through its Democratic Governance in Nigeria supports CLEEN Foundation to implement Mitigating Electoral Violence in Nigeria Towards 2019 General Elections project. In pursuit of the mandate, CLEEN Foundation trained and deployed 43 observers across the 16 LGAs in Ekiti state to monitor the conduct of security personnel during the governorship election that was held July 14th, 2018.
On the Election Day, there was improvement in election security with security personnel conducting themselves in a good manner. For instance, across the 16 LGAs in the Polling Units covered by our observers, and, the collation centres, security personnel arrived between 7.00am, 7 – 7.59am. However, 6.1%, security personnel arrived before 7.00am.
Also, in all the Polling Units visited, a minimum of two and three security personnel was found, while overall analysis shows that each PU has about five security personnel. Security personnel displayed some level of professionalism, for example, our observers found security personnel to be approachable in 56% and 44% of the PUs covered respectively. They wore a name tag and number for identification in all the PUs covered. There was no use of force and the security personnel were seen to have addressed security issues in a friendly manner in places they occurred. In most of the Pus visited, security personnel were present. In the 86% Pus visited, no cases of security threats were recorded, however, 14% Pus recorded threats of violence although the threats were properly managed by the security personnel.
The issue of logistics challenge particularly allowances were seen to be properly handled, for instance, some of the security personnel spoken to on the field, admitted they were paid their duty allowance on election eve. A development many of them said they are experiencing for the first time.
Although the security personnel had done well in providing security, it did little or nothing to curb ballot buying that was hugely recorded in the Ekiti Election. The practice was carried out in the presence of security personnel in all the Pus where they happened. For instance, at Ward B unit 017, Araromi Iyin Ekiti, and Unit 005 Ward 1, Araromi Ifelodun, Afao, security personnel were seen watching party agents trading votes and made no arrest.
In addition, at New Garage, Ado Ekiti, Ward 5 unit 009, Iree Ekiti ward 1 Unit 10, Ilejemeje Local Government Area, at Unit 4, ward 3 in Ikole Ekiti incidence of ballot snatching were recorded.
We also observed that the Ekiti election was over policed, for instance, if each Polling Unit has an average of five security personnel, and Ekiti state has 2195 PUs as shown by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), thus a maximum of 10,975 security personnel is what is needed for the election. When you deploy 3,000 for other sensitive areas such as INEC offices and collation centres you get about 15,000 security personnel. Yet, the police alone deployed 30,000 personnel and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, deployed 19,997making it a total of 49, 997 security personnel deployed to Ekiti excluding the military excluding military deployment account.
Audu Liberty Oseni, CLEEN Foundation