THE Centre for Democracy Development (CDD) has urged security agencies to respect fundamental human rights ahead of the November 6 Anambra gubernatorial election.
The group said this during a press conference in Abuja on Thursday in preparation for the election on Saturday.
“Amid fulfilling their duty of protecting the democratic franchise, CDD therefore, calls on security personnel to respect human rights and standard rules of engagement while allowing INEC to conduct a credible poll and voters to exercise their franchise.
“Security agents must desist from engaging in acts of intimidation and targeting the election managers, party agents or the electorate. Security agents should also ensure that INEC staff and infrastructure are secured. As always, the world will be watching and taking record,” CDD said.
The group also said although the security situation in Anambra had necessitated the heavy presence of security agencies, it was also aware that the security agents had had an “unfortunate record of heavy-handedness and have been used to intimidate voters and electoral officials in previous elections.”
The CDD acknowledged that the deployment of security operatives, especially in Awka, the state capital, would ensure that polls were held but expressed worry that lessened deployments in more provincial LGAs would elevate the risk of armed attacks on polling stations and clashes with security agents.
The group also said that voter turnout could be lower than usual due to non-state armed groups’ threats and the heavy deployment of security agents.
However, CDD said there had been ‘some glimmers of hope in the lead-up to the election’ as the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) had affirmed its determination to hold the election despite loss, due to the insecurity, of several offices and substantial amounts of equipment.
The group recommended that all actors should prioritise peace before, during, and after the polls.
The ICIR had reported that heavily armed troops of the Nigerian Army and Police were patrolling the streets of Awka and other parts of Anambra State.
Also, the United States of America (US) has threatened to sanction perpetrators of violence in the election.
The US disclosed this in a statement, saying that close attention was being placed on the upcoming polls.
“We will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere with the democratic process or instigate violence against civilian populations before, during, or after the elections,” the US said.