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Gov polls: Security agencies failed Nigerians, says CSO

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An election observer organisation, Connected Development, on Saturday, accused security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police Force of undermining the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections in Nigeria.

The organisation said security personnel were responsible for the spate of violence and voter suppression that characterised the election so far.

Executive Director of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, stated these while disclosing the organisation’s preliminary statement on the elections in Abuja, on Saturday.

Lawal lamented that the response of the security agencies, including the police, which is the lead agency of election security to violence and intimidation alerts, during the polls was nothing to write home about.

While commending Independent National Electoral Commission for early deployment of materials and opening of polls, CODE boss said there were concerns about the conduct of elections in some polling stations.

He said, “First, let me iterate that we condemn in strong terms, the attack and suppression of voters in a number of polling units. For example, in Ebonyi State, one of our own, an accredited field observer, Uzodimma Lucy Ogodo was brutally attacked for refusing to vote for a particular party.

“This is unacceptable and against the tenets of democracy, which we strive so hard to maintain as a nation. The democratic contract of our country, dictates that we, as citizens, have the exclusive right to determine who our leaders are, and we must protect this right. This is why we are again calling on security agencies to act swiftly and ensure justice is served.

“Also, based on the reports of our field observers, we can say categorically that there are other pockets of violence that have surfaced in numerous polling units across the country. For example, in Lagos State, Ojo/Iba LCDA Local Govt Area, Polling unit: Princess Eneni Street, Victory Estate, Polling Unit code: 091, was attacked by party hoodlums. In fact, the pregnant wife of our Lagos State Lead was attacked and is currently recuperating. We will not relent until justice is served.

“The police did not live up to expectations with such level of violence. We hope that they will do more. They actually undermined the elections. The armed police were not available and did not respond when we escalated the issue of violence. It is an indictment on police and Inspector General of Police who had assured voters of security,”CODE reported.

According to Lawal, the organisation deployed 20,000 trained observers across the country through its Uzabe election observation platform.

He meanwhile, commended INEC for timely uploads of results on the IReV.

He stressed, “Despite all of these faults that we have observed, we cannot say that the Commission has not done well in some areas; for example, we observed that we recorded the early opening of polls in 79 per cent of polling units observed by CODE as opposed to the less than 30 per cent in the February 25 general elections.

“We must commend the functionality of the BVAS in this election. This indicates the Commission’s commitment to embracing this new technology in our electioneering process.

“We must also commend INEC on the uploads of results on the IReV. we have noticed that as of 3:30 pm this afternoon, some results from various polling units have already been uploaded on the IReV portal. We are watching this progress very closely,” CODE executive director maintained.

Concluding, he noted, “We are on the precipice of monumental change in our democracy right now. The dynamics of our voting pattern and our electioneering processes are improving significantly, and we must not allow logistical failures to thwart necessary change.

“The people have done their part, they are out there either still voting or counting their votes, and following the results, it is time for the commission to do its part as well,” Lawal again stressed.

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