A non-governmental organization, Cleen Foundation, has given an insight into where violence may likely occur during the September 10 governorship election in Edo State, and what pre-emptive actions could be taken to prevent it.
CLEEN Foundation, while presenting a security brief on the election to the Independent National Election Commission and the police, Monday, in Benin, the state capital, listed the local government areas to watch out for as: Oredo, Egor, Igueben, Esan- Central, Etsako-West, and Orhiorwon. The six were classified as “Risk”, for the election.
Six other local government areas – Etsako East, Esan West, Esan South, Ovia South-West, Etsako-Central, and Akoko- Edo – were classified as “Medium risk”, while the remaining ones – Esan-North East, Owan-East, Ikpoba- Okha, Ovia North Ease, Owan West, and Uhunmwode – were listed as “Low risk”.
CLEEN said the risk analysis was done after talking with 783 respondents and experts, in all the 18 local government areas of the states, as well as analysing reports in the media.
The 14-page report identified the exposure of youth to light weapons, inciting speeches by politicians, late deployment of INEC staff and materials, and the possible failure of card readers, as factors that could likely spark off electoral violence, if not contained.
“INEC should ensure that election personnel and logistics get to the remote areas on time. This will reduce the waiting period before accreditation and voting can commence,” the report suggested.
“INEC should deploy more than one smart card reader in every polling unit so that if one fails the other can serve as back up.
“The Commission should guard against last minute switching of ad-hoc staff which hampers the smooth running of elections.”
The report advised the police and other security agencies to remain non-partisan during the election.
“In identified areas with potential for violence or habitual violence, security agencies should act proactively by inviting the electoral violence entrepreneurs in these domains for pre-emptive chats,” the report suggested.
“The security agencies should have intelligence units that monitor the behaviour of security agents deployed for election field work. Such units should be able to make reports real time and also get responses as the election is ongoing.
“Civil society observer teams should not just observe and report, but should have real time mechanism in place for connecting field observations to those who have the capacity to correct polling-unit error or intervening to put volatile situations under control. The use of social media will be helpful in this regard.”
Benson Olugbuo, the Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, told PREMIUM TIMES that his organization trust INEC and the police to make use of the report to conduct smooth election in the state.
The police have said that they are deploying 23,000 policemen for the election.