ABUJA. 12 JULY, 2012. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has said that pursuant to its mandate on all human rights matters, including the right to free exercise of the right to vote, it will monitor the conduct of security personnel during the gubernatorial election in Edo State on Saturday 14th July, 2012.
A statement today said the Commission has been monitoring the conduct of security personnel during successive elections in Nigeria since 2007, with the support of the UNDP and the Joint Donor Basket Fund, due to the innate capacity of security agencies to make or mar the free exercise of the right to vote.
“The situation in Edo State is of particular concern to the Commission in view of the intense political rivalry amongst the political actors leading to a heightened political tension in the build-up to the election. Security assessment by the Commission indicates very high rivalry between the CAN and the PDP especially in Edo central, where few cases of violence such as smashing
of billboards and destruction of posters were recorded. There were also accusations and counter allegations of aggression, extrajudicial killings and partisanship, which have further heightened tension in the build-up to the election. This led to huge deployment of personnel by security agencies including the military.
“The Nigerian Army has deployed 3,500 officers and men for election duties in Edo State. Other security agencies, principally the Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps have equally made huge deployments without adequate sensitization of the populace on rules of engagement.
Muhammad Nasir Ladan Director, Public Affairs & Communications of the rights commission said NHRC believes that although there is tensed political atmosphere in Edo Sate, any deployment of military for election duties must be governed by clear terms of engagement which should be within internationally acceptable standards. These rules should be clearly spelt out for strict compliance by both security agencies and political actors. Several advocacy on voter education by various stakeholders including INEC, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the NHRC and clear directives on code of behavior to security agencies by their commanders have, however, strengthened the Commission’s expectations for a violence free election.
Also NHRC has deployed 234 monitors comprising staff of the Commission and CSOs to all the 18 Local Government Areas of Edo State to monitor specific roles of all the security personnel involved in the election. The security agencies have been sensitized on this exercise which has moderated their behavior in the past.
The Commission appeals to all stakeholders to fully abide by the rules, respect human rights and engage constructively for a hitch-free election. Members of the general public are encouraged to call the Commission’s incident room to report any issues they may have on the conduct of security personnel during the election.
The incident room numbers released today include 08077091123, 08077091124, 08077091126. Staff of the Commission will be available to receive calls on these lines between 7:00am to 10:00pm from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th July 2012,the statement said.