The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room observing the governorship election in Kogi State has expressed concerns over the welfare of security personnel deployed for the election.
It also feared that the huge security deployment could become a state-motivated instrument for voter intimidation in Saturday’s election.
In its preliminary statement on the election on Friday, the organisation said it was hopeful that security operatives would conduct themselves responsibly and adhere to civil and responsible terms of engagement under the rule of law.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, in charge of Operations in the Kogi election, Mr. Leroy Sotonye, had earlier clarified that police authorities had made funds available for allowances of its personnel deployed for the election.
The statement signed by Obo Effanga, on behalf of the 29 civil society organisations, noted that voters were highly mobilized and motivated to cast their votes on the Election Day.
“The Situation Room however hopes that, drawing from its experiences in previous elections, that this deployment, would not lead to state inspired voter and process intimidation and suppression,” the statement said.
“The Situation Room also expresses concern about the arrangements made for the welfare of tens of thousands of armed security personnel drawn from other parts of the country.
“We have noted so far, that like in previous elections, there seems to be scant regard for the overall wellbeing and welfare of these officers of the state.”
The Situation Room however noted that it was reasonably satisfied with the deployment and conduct so far of the security personnel to the state to ensure a safe, secure and peaceful election tomorrow.
It also observed that the electoral environment is charged and that there had been various allegations across the aisle on plans to rig the election.
The group noted the developments and called on all stakeholders, especially political parties to approach the election with responsibility and utmost respect of democratic standards as they could not afford to fail Nigerians.
“The Situation Room nonetheless urges the State Government to assure the electorate of their personal safety and urges voters to go out and peacefully cast their vote,” the statement read.
“The Situation Room calls on INEC in its role as the EMB (Election Management Body) to fully acknowledge and make special arrangements for people with disabilities, the elderly and nursing mothers to help them exercise their franchise. This can be effected by giving specific instructions to INEC officials at the voting units.
“The Situation Room especially urges the digital public to be discerning in their reading of social media reports as experiences have shown that some of the reports may be replete with deliberate falsehood aimed at misleading the public.
“Finally, the Situation Room calls on all stakeholders in the election process to live up to the expectation of Nigerians and especially calls on INEC to deliver free, fair and credible elections in Kogi State.”
Policemen were seen at the police command headquarters being deployed to their various locations for the election.
Trucks were overloaded with police personnel suggesting there might be serious logistical problems.
Majority of them were still waiting at the command to be conveyed to their respective destinations.
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