By Diana Omueza
#TrackNigeria: Cleen foundation, an NGO, has condemned the cases of killings and destruction of election materials in the Feb. 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Dr Benson Olugbuo, the Executive Director of the foundation condemned the acts in a statement on Monday, saying the reported cases of deaths in some states was worrisome and called for great concern in subsequent elections.
Prior to the election, an Election Security Threat Assessments (ESTA) was conducted by the foundation as input toward enhancing public safety and security.
Findings from the ESTA were disseminated widely between August 2018 and January 2019 highlighting states that were likely to be marred by election violence.
“It is disheartening that Rivers, Kogi, Akwa-Ibom and Lagos States among others that were identified to be under security threats by the foundation actually experienced violence.
“Sadly, the states where such acts of killings were reported in the country were Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Kogi and Zamfara States.
“Two persons were killed and three injured in Amagu Community in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State in a clash between rival political thugs.
“A prominent politician was shot dead at his hometown in Andoni LGA of Rivers State. Also, suspected thugs killed a voter at PU 006 at Ayingba, Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State.
“There were also unconfirmed reports of killing of voters and others sustaining various injuries in Rivers State,’’ he said.
Olugbuo said that the assessment was from its deployed 1,620 election observers who monitored the conduct of security agents during the elections across the 774 local governments in the 36 states of the federation and in Abuja.
He said that its observers indicated that there were also some cases of destruction of electoral materials and attacks on security personnel on electoral duty.
According to him, at PU 006, Ward 09 at Bayo Oyewole by Ago-Palace Way in Oshodi Isolo LGA of Lagos State, suspected thugs set some ballot papers ablaze after attacking security personnel posted to polling unit.
He however said that the security officers attached to the polling unit later called for reinforcement.
“Also, in Ward 3, PU 5, Esan South East LGA, Edo State, thugs snatched ballot boxes after the conclusion of voting. There was also burning of ballot boxes in PU 17, Ward 009 in Egor LGA of Edo State.
“In Ward 10, PU5, Etsako East LGA, in Edo State there was reported destruction of ballot boxes and no presence of security agents at the polling unit at the time of the incident,’’ he said.
Olugbuo said that some of its observers reported that they were harassed by security agents and political thugs while performing their civic duty.
According to him, in Nembe Ward 1, PU 005, in Rivers State, a field observer was molested by a notable politician accompanied by political thugs for taking pictures at the polling unit.
“They seized her phone and deleted all the pictures on the device. It is gratifying to note that security agents deployed for election duty rescued her.
“Also one of the observers deployed by YIAGA Africa was arrested and detained by the Police at the Kafanchan Area Command, Kaduna State. The observer was however released,’’ he said.
He urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do all within its powers to improve on the electoral process.
“Learning from the shortcomings of the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on Saturday Feb. 23, INEC should ensure a better administration of the Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections slated for March 9.
“We also call upon the security agencies to ensure the safety of all citizens as the electoral process advances to the critical stages of collation and announcement of results,’’ he said.
Olugbuo commended the resilience and commitment of Nigerians who exhibited commitment and patience, despite difficulties experienced before and during the voting process.
“Majority of the electorates demonstrated commitment to orderly and peaceful elections in Nigeria which is highly commended and shows positive development in our quest to consolidate democracy in Nigeria.’’ (NAN)