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Hate speech, drug abuse electoral violence trigger——CLEEN Foundation study

As we move closer to the 2019 general elections and the importance of violence free elections, it becomes fundamental to monitor and examine possible drivers of violence that have the potentials to mar the success and credibility of the elections. The CLEEN Foundation undertook Elections Security Threats Assessment pilot study covering 12 states across the six geo-political zones.

The study assessed electoral risk factors that are likely to affect the 2019 general elections and proposed mitigation strategies to ensure peaceful and violent-free elections in Nigeria. Other key area of focus was identifying early warning signals that will assist election stakeholders, especially the INEC, security agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) prepare election violence mitigation strategy and response.

The study covered two states per geo-political zone, and a sample size of 5000 across the focal states in proportion to the 2006 Nigerian population figure. Apart from simple random sampling of respondents and stratification of survey samples by gender, age-group, geo-political zones, senatorial districts and states in making the survey representative of the general Nigerian population, post-stratification weights (also known as population or calibration weights) were constructed and applied to the data. They were applied to make the data even more representative of the population and allow for more accurate sample.

Findings from the study shows that hate speech and indecent language by political actors have the potentials to trigger electoral violence. 84% of the respondents affirmed that hate speech is a potential trigger for electoral violence. Kaduna state had the highest percentage (60%) of respondents that believe hate speech could lead to electoral violence. Ekiti came second with (57%), Rivers (52%), Akwa Ibom (47%) and Abia (41%), Imo 34%, Adamawa 29%, Plateau 23%, Benue 23%, Borno 24%, Zamfara 22% and Osun 17%.

Drug abuse has also been identified in the study as a potential threat to electoral violence, 83% of the respondents perceive drug abuse to have the potential ability to precipitate electoral violence. CLEEN Foundation Post Election Statement for the July 14 Governorship Election in Ekiti State validated these findings.

Some Nigerians believe the 2019 general elections will be peaceful, 45% of the respondent believe elections will be peaceful. However, 12%, of the respondents believe the 2019 general elections will witness violence.

Security personnel conduct was found to have the likelihood of election violence trigger. Respondents say the nature of their deployment (inadequate or excessive) and how they carry out their duties during elections could become potential sources of electoral violence. This finding underscores the need to put in place measures that will enhance professional competence of security agents during elections. And other strategies that will help in mitigating all forms of electoral violence in the 2019 general elections. CLEEN Foundation is grateful to the UK Department for International Development (Dfid) for support on the project.

Chigozirim Okoro and Nnamdi Odo, CLEEN Foundation

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