By Abdallah el-Kurebe, Editor
#TrackNigeria: The Election Security Support Centre (ESSC) of the CLEEN Foundation has released its interim statement on the March 9 governorship and House of Assembly elections held across the country.
The report made available to Newsdiaryonline by the Foundation’s Senior Communications and Campaign Officer, Audu Liberty Oseni Saturday observed among others that the election recorded low voter turnout.
The interim statement in full
The CLEEN Foundation Election Security Support Centre (ESSC) opened on 8 March 2019 with an “Election Security Dialogue” with Representatives of key security agencies at the Dialogue and updated Nigerians on the preparations for the governorship/Assembly elections in Nigeria. A panel discussed the role of women in electoral participation as part of the activities to mark the 2019 International Women’s Day. The CLEEN ESSC contributes to the broad goal of CLEEN Foundation Election Security Management Project in Nigeria.
The ESSC tracked security related developments across the 36 states and FCT as the Governorship /State Assembly elections are ongoing. This was done through the 1,600 CLEEN Foundation trained observers deployed across the 774 Local Government Areas in the country. In addition, CLEEN Foundation deployed a Citizen Observer App that allows ordinary citizens to report security issues in their polling units. Other information relating to the election security were equally tracked from the CLEEN Foundation’s social media platforms.
3. Security Related Observations
· Early Arrival of Security Personnel: CLEEN Foundation observed that 79% of security personnel arrived at the polling units across the country before 8:00am while 16% arrived between 8:00am – 8:59am; and 3% arrived 9:00am or later.
· Possession of Firearm at the Polling Unit: CLEEN Foundation observed 88% of the polling units across the country were protected by unarmed security personnel. However, there were reports of fire arm possession in 8% of the polling units. For example, Ward 1, in Polling Unit 5, Aba North LGA Abia Abia State, security personnel were armed inside the polling area.
· Adequacy of Security at Polling Unit: CLEEN observed that on the aggregate, 65% of the polling units had three or more security personnel and two security personnel on ground while 32% of the polling units had one security personnel on ground.
· Identification of Security Personnel
Identification of Security Personnel: CLEEN observed that 93% of the security personnel are wearing easily identifiable name tags. However, 5% of the security personnel were not wearing identifiable name tags while the status of 2% in relation to wearing identifiable nametags were not known.
· Approachability of Security Personnel: The security personnel on election duty were observed to be approachable. Report from our filed observes shows that 94% of the security personnel at the polling units were approachable. 4% were observed to be somewhat approachable while 2% of security personnel were not approachable.
· Impartiality of Security Personnel at the Polling unit: Statistics available to CLEEN Foundation shows that 93% of security personnel were impartial while 1% of the security agents were some-what partial. The status of impartiality of 5% of the security personnel was not ascertained.
· Feeling of Safety at the Polling unit: CLEEN observed that 89% of the polling units were safe and secure while 9% were observed to be somewhat safe and secure.
4. General Observations
5. Voter Apathy:Generally, CLEEN observed low turnout of voters across the polling units observed when compared to the Presidential/NASS elections two weeks ago. Specifically, at Polling Unit 011, Customs Qtrs Karu Site 2, Abuja, there was low voter turn out. In several other states including Kwara, Kogi and Benue States, there was general low voter turn out.
6. Deployment of INEC Officials:The deployment of iNEC personnel for the Governorship/NASS elections indicates an improvement from the Presidential/NASS elections. CLEEN observed the early arrival and setting up of polling units across the country. CLEEN observed the issue of poor welfare of Corps members. At PU 026 Ojodu, Ward B Lagos State, INEC personnel reportedly refused to go to the polling unit on the allegation that they were not paid. This was also observed in several Polling Units across Lagos State.
7. Card Reader Issues: CLEEN Foundation observed increased performance of card readers across the country, CLEEN only observed few incidents of non-performance of card readers such as at the Community Primary School Alusekere, Owode Ede, Ede North, Osun State as well as Shomolu and Alimosho areas of Lagos State. However, the issues were resolved by INEC and voting continued in the respective polling units.
8. Vote Trading: CLEEN Foundation observed incidents of vote trading across the country. In some States like Ekiti and Lagos, it was done discreetly, while in some states, it was open and public knowledge. Observers noted cases of vote trading in Ebonyi State (OhaukwuEffium IAkparata market square/004) Enugu State, Enugu East Mbuluowehe Ward CPS Amokpo 1). Niger State, (Chanchaga Polling Unit close to David Umar HousePiggery junction); Imo State (Owerri West Obinze/08 Practicing school Obinze/005); Kwara State (Ilorin East Polling Unit 012 Baare; Ilorin South Akanbi IV Govt Sec school 1/012; Edu Lafiagi Ward 1Somasun Polling Unit 03).
9. Under Age Voting:There were cases of underage voting observed by CLEEN Foundation. For example, in Polling Unit 006, Ward Nasarawa, Katagum Zaki LGA, Bauch State.
There are improvements on the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies/personnel compared to what was observed in the Presidential/NASS elections. CLEEN will continue to observe the elections and later issue her post-election statement to detail more on the overall conduct of the security personnel on election duty.