The governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States conducted on November 16 were marred by allegations of violence and irregularities.
There were allegations made against security agencies, particularly the police by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room. The Situation Room comprise of Civil Society Organsisation (CSOs) working in support of credible elections in Nigeria.
The Situation Room consists of groups such as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI) Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and YIAGA Africa. Others are Development Dynamics, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), Stakeholder Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), CISLAC, and several others.
A statement signed by Clement Nwankwo, leader of the team made the following allegations:
Situation Room received many reports of security surrounding the elections including lapses that had far-reaching consequences on the elections. The Nigerian police had stated before the elections that it was deploying 35, 200 police personnel to Kogi State and 31, 041 police personnel to Bayelsa State.
In addition, other security agencies deployed personnel for the elections including the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, Army, Navy and Air Force.
Failure To Provide Name Of Personnel Deployed For Election
In spite of these, security gaps and lapses remained manifest throughout the elections in the two States. Security forces failed to provide details of names of its personnel that it deployed for the elections, raising questions about the claims on the numbers deployed.
Connivance With Ballot Box Snatchers
Situation Room received reports of security personnel standing by and watching incidents of ballot box snatching, violence and abuse of the electoral process. For instance, in Kogi State this was observed in Ajaokuta Local Government, Ganaja Ward; Dekina Local Government, Anyigba Ward, PUs 003,005, 009, 018, 025 and 026 and Ankpa Local Government, Agodo Ward, PU 006. Whereas in Bayelsa State this was observed in Kolokuma/ Opokuma Local Government, Ward 1, PU 003 and Nembe Local Government, Igbeta-Ewoama Ward, PU 002. In several polling units, police personnel who were unarmed were overwhelmed by political parties, thugs and supporters. These security personnel, as was the case in most instances, did not receive back up support from roving security personnel as planned.
Armed Security Personnel Preventing Voters From Voting
According to the Situation Room, there were also reports of armed security personnel shooting, dispersing voters and carting away election materials and even destroying them. It also noted that the level of violence perpetrated by the two major political parties and politicians, evident sometimes in the collusion with security personnel seriously undermined the elections, deterred voters and made the exercise a farce.
Police Service Commission (PSC): We’re Satisfied With Conduct Of Police, Other Security Agencies
But in a contrary view, the Police Service Commission (PSC) in a statement on Sunday said armed men overwhelmed security agents during the governorship polls in the two states.
The PSC also deployed 45 officials to monitor conduct of policemen during the election in the two states.
According to a statement issued by the spokesperson of the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, the commission expressed its satisfaction with the roles played by the police and other security agencies in the elections.
The commission called on the leadership of the security agencies to immediately take steps to mop up illegal firearms to safeguard the nation’s democracy.