Tuesday, 27 September 2016

ELECTION MONITOR EDO GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION PRELIMINARY PRESS STATEMENT




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday 27th, September 2016

Election Monitor (EM) is one of the forty-four (44) Election Observer groups accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the 2016 Edo State Governorship Election. Election Monitor has 36 observers in its mission who will be deployed across local government areas of Edo State on Wednesday 28th September, 2016.

It will be recalled that the Edo Governorship Election was originally scheduled to hold on Saturday 10th September 2016 but it was postponed as a result of ‘advice’ by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and Department of State Security (DSS). Election Monitor has publicly taken exception to the tactics employed by the NPF and DSS which basically compelled INEC to postpone an election it was prepared for. Election Monitor is still calling on the National Assembly to urgently and thoroughly investigate the postponement of the Edo Governorship election.
 
Before the postponement of the poll, INEC publicly stated that it had completed twelve out of fourteen pre-election operational procedures. Based on media reports and observations by Election Monitor observers INEC appears to be on course in its preparations towards the conduct of the election. Smart Card readers have been reprogrammed, PVC distribution continued until Friday 23rd September 2016, sensitive materials are being distributed to SuperRACs (Registration Area Centres), distribution of observer kits to election observers is ongoing amongst many others. INEC has also recently held another stakeholders meeting as well as a briefing for accredited election observers (foreign and local) on Monday 26th September 2016. EM observers however noticed that there were fewer personnel available for the distribution of observer kits. Election Monitor notes with concern, text messages being circulated across the state asking voters to bring their PVCs to particular locations. One such text reads “Ugiomo voters are invited for an urgent meeting at Evborhiarhia community chairman’s house tomorrow by 12pm. Please come with your voters cards.”
 
The security presence across the entire state is clearly quite substantial with a large number also deployed to the INEC Edo State Headquarters. Once again the Nigeria Police have assured of adequate security for the elections even delineating their deployment plans across the state in a presentation made at the briefing of accredited election observers. The Nigeria Police will deploy 10,508 officers while sister security agencies will deploy 2,627 officers across the 18 LGAs of Edo State. 1,920 policemen will also be deployed at Ward collation centres, 4,032 officers for the ward intervention unit and 360 officers at the LGA collation centres. This comes to a total of 19,447 officers to be deployed in all the 18 LGAs of Edo State. A total of 3,156 officers will be involved in Charge room Duty/Guard of vulnerable points/enforcement of no movement order, PMF Personnel, Conventional Policemen, Counter Terrorism Unit and Special Protection Unit. This brings the total statewide deployment to 22,603 officers according to the presentation.

The Nigeria Police have also stated that they have come up with new innovations to ensure a hitch-free exercise such as Early deployment of personnel; Posting of personnel by name, GSM numbers and Commands/Formation for accountability; Synergy with other Sister Security Agency, who have submitted the names of their personnel to the Police for deployment; Vehicular patrols to be in place; A Unit of PMF personnel in each LGA; Intervention Squad in each Ward. Election Monitor encourages the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure that these innovations are actually implemented and also very critically that voters, election observers and other stakeholders are not intimidated or harassed in the course of the election.

Some INEC National Commissioners and top personnel from Abuja were sighted at INEC State Headquarters Benin City on Monday 26th September 2016. These personnel are part of INEC’s monitoring team to cover the 18 LGAs of Edo State during the election. Election Monitor calls on INEC to carry out its activities effectively and ensure it remains neutral in all circumstances. The Commission should use this election as an opportunity to showcase its commitment to conduct free, fair and credible elections. INEC should also ensure that it effectively monitors the strict compliance to its guidelines on usage of card readers.

The Nigeria Police should keep its promise to bring to book all electoral offenders no matter how highly placed.

Political parties are encouraged to respect the rights of citizens and adhere to the rule of law in their activities. Politicians should endeavour to inform their supporters to eschew violence in all its ramifications.

Election Monitor enjoins all eligible voters to be peaceful and law abiding with permanent voter cards in Edo State to come out massively and exercise their civic duty on Wednesday 28th September, 2016.


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