Ahead of the Ondo governorship election slated for October, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have charged security agencies to arrest unauthorized persons found with arms during the election.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the stakeholders’ meeting towards peaceful and credible elections in Ondo state, the groups urged security agencies to be strict and decisive by calling politicians to order while political parties should sign a peace accord and make a commitment towards a peaceful election and failure to do so; relevant security agencies should prosecute those found culpable.
According to the communiqué signed by the Executive Director, Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), Faith Nwadishi on behalf of the groups stated that “in preparation for the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo state on 19th October 2020, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) urged stakeholders cutting across the security personnel, youth and women groups, people with disability, the media, the civil society organizations among others during various advocacy visits in Akure followed by a stakeholders meeting on August 28th, 2020 to rub minds and discuss issues pertinent to achieving a free, fair and credible 2020 governorship election in Ondo State. The meeting was themed, “Towards a peaceful and credible October 10th Governorship Election in Ondo State.”
She pointed out that “the objective of the meeting that was to work towards synergizing and partnering with citizens and critical stakeholders like the security agencies for a credible, free and fair election in Ondo State.”
Prior to the meeting, the CTA team paid Advocacy visits to security agencies including the DSS, the NSCDC, the Nigeria Police while other Para-military organisations and the Nigerian Army were notified of the presence of CTA and were invited to the stakeholders’ meeting. Other critical agencies visited include; the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC).
Participants commended INEC on the series of training it has conducted for security agencies and consultation with other stakeholders on the electoral process, and for issuing in a timely manner guideline for the conduct of the election in the context of Covid-19 pandemic.
It was however observed and recommended that hate speech and attacks at campaigns by politicians are precursors to violence, that the health challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic might lead to voter apathy, that health personnel may not be deployed at polling centres and units on Election Day, that there might be late commencement of voting on election day, that security personnel may not be deployed timeously and adequately.
And that security personnel might be encumbered and overwhelmed if they combine security job on election day with temperature check for voters as planned by INEC and might not be able to carry out their functions in an efficient and professional manner.
It feared that thugs would be emboldened to snatch ballot boxes because security agencies at the polling units are not allowed to carry arms even as it noted that some Ad hoc staff engaged by INEC on election duties is ignorant and not knowledgeable to understand their duties and functions saying that the role of the Judiciary in the electoral process has become worrisome.
It recommended that security agencies should be strict and decisive by calling politicians to order while political parties should sign a peace accord and make commitment towards a peaceful election and failure to do so; relevant security agencies should prosecute those found culpable.
It further recommended that INEC should collaborate with health personnel to ensure the protection and safety of voters and election workers in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.