Connected Development (CODE), a civil society organisation and an INEC accredited observer, has condemned, in the strongest of terms, the wave of violence that plagued the supplementary elections that held in Kano, Plateau, Bauchi, Benue and Nasarawa States.
According to a press release signed by CODE’s head of Observer Mission, Hamzat Lawal, despite CODE’s recommendation after the Presidential and National Assembly Elections that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in synergy with security agents, must improve their security architecture to protect electoral officers, voters, as well as electoral materials, the organisation witnessed and reported a consistent descent in the level of preparedness from the Presidential Election through the Gubernatorial Elections and the supplementary reruns.”
According to the release, “CODE, through its observation mapping tool, Uzabe, recorded series of violence incited by political thugs in Minjibir and Rimingado of Kano State; Jenta Mangoro, Plateau Hotel Road, and Angwa Abuja of Plateau State. To say the least, the reports of political party agents harassing voters while security agents turned a blind eye was appalling.
“CODE condemns the persistent use of violence by rival party thugs in Kano, Bauchi, Benue and Nasarawa States as a means of disrupting the electoral process in favour of their candidates as reported from Gama ward in Nassarawa Local Government of Kano State where violence disrupted voting; affecting 44 polling units.
“It is quite sad that Party agents who ordinarily should support the movement of a seamless electoral process are the actual perpetrators of violence. Security is one of the prevalent challenges confronting the nation’s growth. Citizens trying to exercise their voting rights should not have to die or be severely injured at the cost of election,” he stated.
Lawal went on to say that, “As a matter of urgency, CODE calls on INEC to review its security architecture provided for by the electoral act to curb violence and sanction perpetrators of election violence. Together with all relevant stakeholders, the Elections Management Board should investigate all allegations of violence and cases of violent acts.
“It is important to note that the commission must strengthen its synergy with security institutions to ensure safety of INEC staff, observers, journalists, voting materials and voters. The commission must also improve its timeline for training security agents and must include simulation that can help these agents identify and prepare in situations of election crisis.
“INEC must also review its collation process and adopt result-management technology that is competent and secure for transmitting results. It is not enough that there is a countdown to election on INEC’s website but a real-time collation table with live updates as results come in, will improve the Commission’s credibility.”
He further said, “Despite CODE’s concerns over underage voting witnessed during the Presidential and Gubernatorial election, Uzabe recorded again the issue of underage voting in Jama’are Jabbor Primary School, Bauchi State, and Tauma ward of Bodinga Polling Unit 3, Sokoto State. CODE urges INEC to review its voters’ registration data to filter records of underage persons.
“We recommend that INEC conducts a thorough evaluation of its performance during the 2019 election and identify burning issues that have been raised by stakeholders during the 2019 General Elections to inform a more competent electoral process in future and secure our democracy.”