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Arms proliferation, hate speech, illegal immigrants – concerns over Bayelsa poll

INEC indicts self in election security assessment report   

A report published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has indicted the electoral umpire with a 95.2 per cent respondent feedback on the tendency of INEC corrupt officials compromising the November 16 governorship election.

Second in the list is political interference in the electoral process put at 94.2 per cent followed by strong political opposition – 93.6 per cent while the least in the ranking is Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) influence pegged at 37.8 per cent.

The study was drawn from the Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool (EMVAT) of the electoral body as the gubernatorial poll is scheduled to hold the same day in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

The Election Security Threat System (ESTA) identifies election risk factors in the Bayelsa governorship Poll with the essence of recognising early warning signals that could assist stakeholders deploy needed responses.

“…study identified a number of election risk factors which, in their order of rating by the respondents, include: (a) corruption among INEC officials (95.2 per cent); (b) political interference in the work of INEC (94.2 per cent),” the report states.

“(c) the presence of strong opposition (93.6 per cent); (d) inadequate training and conduct of party agents (91.3%); (e) adherence to process and procedures (90.4 per cent); (f) proliferation of small arms and light weapons (89.8 per cent); (g) inadequate training and conduct of security agents (88.2 per cent); and i) abuse of power of incumbency (88.2 per cent).

“Others include exclusion and discrimination against the youth (85.3 per cent); INEC’s information management (81.3per cent), confused electoral laws (79.9 per cent); exclusion and discrimination against the elderly (76.9per cent); widespread availability and use of hard drugs (76.2per cent); the activities of troublesome politicians, political parties, leaders and candidates (74.6 per cent), the participation of illegal immigrants in the election (74.3 per cent); and the use of hate speech (71.8 per cent).”

According to INEC, data for the study were collected using the EMVAT to elicit information from 408 members of the general public and experts across the state.

“Analyses were analyzed descriptively and interpretatively using tables, frequency distribution, and simple percentages.”

In terms of insecurity, it identified the roles of security operatives and religious extremists as major groups whose actions or inactions could pose a major threat to the electorate.

However, in Kogi State, the study, conducted on 928 respondents revealed the likelihood of political exclusion of the youths which might lead to electoral violence.

It showed exclusion of 83 per cent of the youth, women exclusion put at 78 per cent, the exclusion of ethnic minorities – 74 per cent and the elderly, described as the most excluded political group ranked 70 per cent.

Beyond exclusion, the respondents identified religious extremism, undue-influence such as God-fatherism as well as partiality of INEC officials as issues that might lead to electoral violence in the middle belt state.

“….in terms of Election Management leading to Election Violence in Kogi, the study reveals that the following are very likely to occur: Partiality of INEC Officials (82 per cent); Problem of Underage Registration (73 per cent); Problems associated with the Continuous Voter Registration exercise (69%); Failure to prosecute Electoral Offenders (68%); Poor voter Education by INEC (65 per cent); and substitution of Trained Electoral Officials (64 per cent).”

Other independent findings by Non-profit organisations such as YIAGA Africa had earlier alluded to some of the above discoveries, particularly the issue of arms stock-piling, violence, vote-buying and hate speeches.

Butswat Asinim, Bayelsa State Police Public Relations Officer, in his reaction told The ICIR that arms stock-piling were truly reported but it has not been established based on intelligence report.

He said several police officers from the states are converging in Yenagoa, the State capital ahead of the poll to prevent likely electoral violence.

“We have deployed our intelligence to various communities to source for information concerning the fear that people are stockpiling arms to be used for the election.

“Based on the intelligence so far gathered, we are not sure that these fear are actually real. We couldn’t really get any tangible intelligence as to the credibility of that information on arms stock-piling,” Asinim says.

“However, our men are still in the field sourcing for actionable intelligence to that regard. We will also deploy our tactical unit. As I speak with you, several police officers from various states are arriving Yenagoa for the election.”


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