REPORT of policemen harassing election observers at Irrua in Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State as off-cycle elections kick off in the state is being ignored by the police authorities.
NICHOLAS Ibekwe, a journalist with Premium Times in a recent tweet disclosed that election observers were being subject to harassment by the police under the orders of Ibrahim Gotan, an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
“At Irrua in Esan Central LGA, the police are pounding the vehicles of election observers on the instruction of Ibrahim Gotan, an Assistant Commissioner of Police. Mr. Gotan said the Commissioner of Police in charge of election does not recognise observers,” Ibekwe tweeted.
Though Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the only body legally empowered to monitor elections in Nigeria, the electoral body recognises election observers as essential in verifying that elections are conducted in an atmosphere of freedom and fairness. Observers are also expected to witness whether or not the results announced fairly reflect the votes counted.
The ICIR reached out to Chidi Nwabuzor, Edo’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) via his mobile, but he declined to comment.
“I’m not allowed to speak. We have on-ground the deputy inspector general of police and even the Edo commissioner of police cannot speak. That is how the police force works,” Nwabuzor said and ended the call.
Meanwhile, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has condemned the clampdown on governors by security officers in Benin City, Edo state capital few hours to the election.
In a press statement on Friday, Kingsley Chinda, the leader of the caucus, described the act as an unacceptable activity of security agencies whose duty he stated is to ensure the safety of lives and property rather than cause chaos in the state.