To be released
8th November 2023
Election Security Management in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa: Safeguarding Democracy
The impending elections in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa represent a critical moment in our democratic journey. The sanctity of the electoral process and the security of the citizens who participate in it are of utmost importance. As concerned stakeholders, CLEEN Foundation demands rigorous measures be put in place to ensure election security and maintain the credibility of the upcoming elections.
CLEEN Foundation recognises that elections will be conducted in an environment where trust in both the electoral process and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has plunged. However, we call on all stakeholders to maintain utmost neutrality in the discharge of their election duties.
Enhanced Security Presence: We call for an increased and evident security presence in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa in the lead-up to and during the elections. This should include the deployment of law enforcement agencies to deter acts of violence and intimidation. This is not a call to militarize the election, but considering the antecedents of electoral violence and the prelude leading to this election, citizens must perceive safety.
INEC’s preparedness: With over 5.4 million Nigerians on the voter register for the Nov. 11 governorship elections in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi states and with the just concluded general elections, there are several lessons INEC must learn to further strengthen its logistics. The issue of efficient and timely distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive voting materials, timely dissemination of information, and functionality of INEC’s hotlines and the BVAS are fundamental. The capacity of staff is another whilst the capability of the infrastructures deployed will be put to test again, considering that several LGAs in Bayelsa and Kogi can only be accessed via water.
INEC must do everything possible to resist pressure and do everything possible to ensure free, fair, transparent, and credible elections. Thereby avoiding any action that could lead to the breakdown of law and order.
Indicators of Voter Inducement and Electoral Offenses: Voter inducement through the distribution of money and gift items, from the beginning of the pre-election to Election Day, is potential. This is a permanent feature in Nigeria’s elections at the state level, and it can undermine the legitimacy of the electoral process. Hence, we call on INEC and anti-graft agencies to put measures in place to stop this undemocratic act from playing out during the elections.
Electoral Violence: CLEEN Foundation, in its ESTA, tracked and documented activities that could affect the peaceful conduct of the elections. Reports of physical violence during political party rallies and campaigns in Kogi and Bayelsa. The tribal, religious, and ethnic sentiments across the states are a recipe for violence if security personnel do not rise to the occasion. The report already has it and recorded incidences of pre-election violence and arson leading to loss of life and properties.
CLEEN calls on security agencies to improve their intelligence-gathering capabilities. We expect the security agencies to bridge the identified gaps as stakeholders expect improved conduct during the off-cycle 2023 elections.
Our Message to Citizens:
To the citizens of Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa, your participation in the democratic process is a fundamental right. We encourage you to exercise your civic duty peacefully and responsibly. Your vote matters and your choice should be respected. We ask that you remain vigilant and report any electoral violence, intimidation, or irregularities to the appropriate authorities. Your active engagement in the electoral process is crucial to ensuring a secure and credible election.
Our Call to Action:
As stakeholders, we are committed to ensuring the integrity of the electoral process. We call upon the relevant authorities and institutions to heed our demands for heightened election security. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard democracy and protect the rights of citizens in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa.
We will closely monitor the developments leading up to the elections and during the voting process, and we expect all relevant authorities to take immediate action to address any security concerns that may arise.