GAD CROPPED

Peter

Juliana Francis

The Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Mr Gad Peter, said the organisation has launched the 2023 election security support centre (ESSC) to monitor the conduct of security agents and agencies during the forthcoming elections.

In a statement made available to our reporter, Peter said it was for this reason that the organization had launched the Election Security Support Centre (ESSC), to monitor the conduct of security agencies throughout the entire process.

He said that the short-term ESSC has also deployed observers in 109 Senatorial Zones across the country.

He added: “The observers are representatives of civil society organisations, independent experts, women, and youth as well as professionals from various fields. The objectives of the Centre are to provide an accurate and impartial assessment of the electoral process, including the degree to which the conduct of security agencies meets standards for democratic elections, offer recommendations for improvement of future elections security based on the findings, and demonstrate CLEEN’s solidarity and support towards consolidation of democracy, peace, stability and development in Nigeria.”

Peter explained that as part of its observation process, CLEEN Foundation will engage with various stakeholders as well as observe the polling process from this Centre.

“We expect to receive some diplomatic and local analysts at different points. Based on the findings, CLEEN Foundation will issue its preliminary statement on the electoral process on 27 February 2023 in Abuja. Our mandate is to observe and assess the pre-election period, the conduct of security agencies and activities on polling day, and the post-election period. “Throughout, we will consider all factors relating to the security of the electoral process. We will assess whether the elections are conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself.  As we undertake this assessment and conduct our duties, we will be objective, independent, and impartial,” said Peter.

He recalled that just a few weeks ago, CLEEN Foundation launched its traditional Election Security Threats Assessment which it believed will embrace the mitigations CLEEN had deployed with tactical commanders at different levels in the build-up to the elections.

He urged citizens to go about exercising their franchise peacefully without molestation, adding that the organization was certain that the public’s confidence in the credibility of the polls was growing, which is likely to bolster voter turnout.

He further stated: “Following amendments to electoral laws, the electoral commission introduced several changes to the voting system, the most significant of which is that polling stations will transmit ballots electronically to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, in real-time.

“Despite lingering doubts about connectivity in remote parts of the country, many Nigerians believe these innovations will be helpful in preventing anyone from altering results manually at polling stations or state collation centers, as poll workers colluding with party agents and thugs had done in the past.

“Nigerian security agencies must improve their intelligence-gathering capabilities. No gainsaying that the Nigerian Police Force has done extremely well in the preparations for the elections. However, the Force must rise to the occasion and stop the various attacks on its personnel and infrastructure in some parts of the county.

“The continued raids on police stations and apparent anonymity of the gunmen are a test of the efficacy of Nigeria’s security intelligence and ability to tackle criminality before, during, and after the elections. Through intelligence gathering, fortified security posts, and a multi-security framework, Nigeria’s security agencies must now save themselves to secure the elections and the nation.”

According to Peter, CLEEN applauded the conduct of security and law enforcement agencies during the campaign season.

He added: “It is worthy of note that during the party campaigns, security and law enforcement personnel were present and conducted themselves professionally. We urge security agencies and anti-corruption agencies to continue to follow due process and the rule of law as we move closer to the general elections on the 25th of February 2023.

“Although the conduct of party campaigns across the states was laudable, some party campaigns have been marred by skirmishes in states like Lagos, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers where violent incidences have been reported especially politically related killings. The most recent being the senatorial candidate in Enugu East geo-political zone which we call on the police to rise up to the occasion to bring the perpetrators to book. We urge INEC, the politicians and political stakeholders to always shun electoral violence, and vote trading and also be fair, unbiased and objective in the discharge of their duties while we approach the elections. we still express unreserved worries over the recurring but unhealthy and divisive verbal attacks and hate speeches which manifest in the utterances of politicians, political supporters, political party leaders, traditional rulers, and religious leaders, which if not holistically addressed may pose grievous challenges to the resulting process, peaceful-coexistence, unity, and diversity of our beloved nation.”

The Foundation also recommends that key actors in the electoral processes particularly INEC, political parties, security agents, mass media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) need to pay increased attention to the identified risk factors to tackle them headlong through the various duty bearers.

He said that the early warning signs identified in the ESTA report should be seen as a priority by appropriate authorities to take early action.

The ED noted that synergy among these agencies was imperative to the peaceful outcomes of the elections.

“We, therefore, call on relevant stakeholders to prioritise the welfare of all security agents and essential workers, ad-hoc staff on election duties to avoid unintended outcomes. The key stakeholders in the South-East should activate their diplomatic channels to persuade all groups in the region to allow for a peaceful election process. Let me conclude by saying that ‘Elections are not worth the blood of any citizen’ there is a need to strengthen and promote peaceful coexistence amongst the diverse ethnoreligious and political groups in Nigeria. This would help minimize the outbreak and persistence of violent conflicts that stoke election processes.

“There is also a deliberate need to improve the perception of the public and to advance security accountability in the elections, to achieve this; the government must desist from political interference before, during, and after the elections.”

 

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