How INEC and Police Flout Warning Signals Before Kogi Election Debacle.||Anyigbaleft


It is neither happenstance nor intrigue that negative audits have trailed the simply finished up Governorship races in Bayelsa and Kogi states. It is likewise no accident that political decision onlookers like YIAGA AFRICA, Situation Room, and Center for Democratic Development (CDD) are talking in one voice, denouncing the complicity in the direct of the Governorship political race in the states, particularly in Kogi State.

The Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship Elections is relied upon to give a chance to all political decision partners particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerian Police and Political gatherings to enhance the lead of the February general races. Tragically, the procedure was cursed by a few complicities, which undermined its standard in for all intents and purposes all implications. It is significantly increasingly tragic that all political race partners, particularly INEC and the Nigerian police, considered this to be as there were accessible notice sign of voter incitement and constituent viciousness.

Few weeks before the Governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, an article underscoring early warning signals of violence and voter inducement was published along with myriad of other concerns raised by election stakeholders. The concerns were either met with assurances or neglected.

It can be recalled vividly when YIAGA AFRICA released its pre-election observation report raising concerns of distribution of gift items and purchase of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) for as low as N500. Reacting to this, the head of voter education and publicity in Bayelsa, Wilfred Ifogah said the commission doesn’t monitor salt and rice sharing. According him, even before the vote-buying syndrome, they used to give out commodities such as salt, rice and other things during campaign.

Maybe, that is what they are doing right now that YIAGA AFRICA is calling voter inducement.

“INEC does not track such things”.  While the electoral law is clear about vote buying and selling on election day within certain meters of the polling units, INEC and other security agencies did not take any proactive measure to curb what ended up becoming a rampant transaction on election day.

Similarly, the report on  recruitment of thugs and stockpiling of arms was widespread all over communication platforms and its almost impossible to imagine the security agencies didn’t take heed to this critical warning signals before it escalated. It is even more ominous that  despite the setting ablaze of a political party office and attack on a female candidate contesting in the election during the stakeholder meeting in Kogi, at the full glare of Police Chiefs, security apparatus didn’t prepare to curtail the impending violence in the state.

Just two days to the Governorship election in both states, YIAGA AFRICA hosted both the Public Relations Officers of both  Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSDCDC) on its weekly program to discuss election security ahead of the polls.  As we expected, security agencies gave all the assurances left in this world saying at least 35,000 Police officers have been deployed to Kogi State with over 10,000 NSCDC personnel to support. Security officials appeared on various fora and meetings ahead of the election to continue boosting electoral officials’ confidence on the safety of personnel and materials while also assuring citizens safety of their lives and properties. One of such meeting was the early warning scan organized by Search for Common Ground; another Civil Society Organization who observed early warning signals before the elections. At the meeting, stakeholders including journalists raised major security concerns, which was met by assurance by the police chief at the event saying the police force is embarking on visibility policing to track any unwanted that may want to disrupt the process. Assurances upon assurances was what the citizens got from security agencies before elections but it’s so unfortunate that the police service commission claim the force was overstretched to manage just two state elections.

In the words of YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote Board Chair, Dr Hussaini Abdu “the unacceptable vote procurement (vote buying) and violence perpetrated by the systematically recruited and prepared party officials and thugs were carried out under the full glare of the almost nonchalant security officials. They acted helplessly as if they were under instruction not to respond to the situation, if not already prepared to support the brigandage.”

The challenges in Kogi state 2019 gubernatorial elections squally lies on the role and failures of security agencies, the police in particular, political parties, the major candidates and their state and non-state accomplices. These stakeholders deliberately worked to undermine the election. They appeared to be more concerned about electoral victory than the credibility and legitimacy of the process.
Until the law and those that implement it have the guts to shame and prosecute culprits of electoral complicity, Nigeria may just begin to give up on its electoral democracy. While waiting for stakeholders charged with the responsibility of conducting a free, fair, credible and peaceful elections to take responsibility, there is further need for the executive and legislative to expedite necessary actions on electoral reforms.
Moshood Isah, Media Officer, YIAGA Africa. He tweets @moshoodpm

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