No fewer than 20 Civil Society Organizations that observed the March 19, 2016, re-run election in Rivers State have described the outcome as yet another sore point in our national journey to a free, fair and credible electoral process.
In a statement jointly signed by the representatives of the organisations, they noted that while the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) was busy making preparations for a credible election, the political gladiators in the state were busy planning for war and perfecting means of undermining the efforts of the Electoral Body.
According to the organisations, the numerous security breaches culminating in the wanton destruction of lives and property despite the very large number of security personnel deployed to Rivers state is a cause for worry.
They noted with dismay that 6000 conventional Policemen, 8 additional or visiting mobile police squadrons to support the 46 units of mobile police already serving in the state, soldiers, SSS operatives, Civil Defence personnel and other paramilitary agencies could not provide adequate security for the National and State Assembly elections in just one state.
The statement reads further, “More worrisome is the fact that each of the above mentioned agencies was associated with particular political parties and report from observers in the field can confirm that in several instances these security agencies worked for the parties they were associated with.
“We are not unaware of the fact that INEC made the necessary arrangements for credible elections and its officers ready to deploy timeously to their various Polling Units in a very charged environment , a situation which the Commission still braced to discharge its responsibility. We acknowledge that there were logistical handicaps on the part of INEC , a situation that could not be remedied owing to the rampant violent environment.
“We the undersigned therefore condemn in the strongest terms possible the violence that was unleashed in the state by the political actors and their agents and call for the arrest and prosecution of any individual found to have remotely or actively aided and abetted these occurrences.
“We join millions of other well-meaning Nigerians to mourn with the family of Samuel Okonta, the Youth Corps member who lost his life while on election duty . We also condole with the families of all other citizens, staff of INEC and security operatives who lost their lives during the election. We restate our total support to and for INEC as it grapples with the challenges of reforming a broken and flawed election process in our country , which is worsened by the Machiavellian politics of might is right of the political elites in Nigeria.
“We also call on politicians nationwide to shun violence and all Nigerians to continue to support the INEC in its efforts to reform our electoral process and provide a fair platform for Nigerians to choose their leaders freely.
“We also call on the federal government to ensure effective investigation of the violence in Rivers with a view to identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to account. Security is the responsibility of the federal government. The only way to curb recurrent electoral violence is to bring perpetrators to account.
The statement was signed by:
Ezenwa Nwagwu- Partners for Electoral Reforms
Dr Chima Amadi – Centre for Transparency Advocacy
Okechukwu Nwanguma- Network for Police Reform in Nigeria
> Faith Nwadishi – Koyenum Immalah Foundation
> Jaye Gaskia- Say No Campaign
> Samson Itodo – YIAGA
> Funke Philips- Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group
> Emeka Ononamadu – Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights
> Laz Apir – Transition Monitoring Group
> Esther Uzoma- Proactive Gender Initiative
> Kemi Okenyodo-Partners West Africa – Nigeria: RoLE Initiative
> Hauwa Shekarau – Law,Media and Development Initiative
> Aminu Mahmud – Public Interest Lawyers League
> Patrick Chiekwe – Foundation for the Conservation of the Earth (FOCONE)
> Delight Aniche – Open Development Initiative
> Effiom Duke – Green Concern for Development (Greencode)
> Umoh Isua Ikoh- Peace Point Action
> Larry Ineme- Policy Alert
> Barr. Tochukwu Ohazuruike- Liberty Foundation
> John Atani: Nigeria Electoral Rights Group
> Isioma Okafor: Women’s Right Advancement Forum
> Kola Salau: Centre for Democracy and Leadership
> Opeyemi Azeez: Justice Watch
> Nnamdi Orji: Alliance for Democratic Advancement
> Abiodun Salau: Young Democratic Lawyers
> Ologun Ayodeji: Centre for Ethics in Leadership
> Adigun Abimbola: Global Agenda for Development
> Ayuba Ephraim: Get Involved Campaign