By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA: Ahead of the forthcoming gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria (EISA) Election Observation Mission [EOM], has called on security agents to provide maximum security to INEC facilities across the country from registration areas to the INEC headquarters.
This is just as the EISA, tasked them to investigate the incidences of the fire outbreaks at INEC facilities and account to the public on the cause of the fire.
The call was made by His Excellency Rupiah Banda, former President of Zambia, on Monday in Abuja while giving the preliminary statement of the EISA mission’s assessment up until the end of polling.
Banda, who led the EISA EOM, stressed on the need for security agents to provide maximum security for elections materials in transit and to investigate incidents of violence reported on election day and bring perpetrators to book.
He stated that, “In the lead up to the elections, there were incidents of arson at INEC facilities. On election day, the EISA EOM noted media reports of incidents of violence and intimidation in Lagos, Kwara, Rivers, Osun and Oyo States amongst others.
“These incidents involved armed men snatching elections materials and shooting randomly within polling stations. The EISA EOM is very concerned that after 6 consecutive elections, electoral violence remains a feature of Nigeria’s electoral landscape.
“In the context of increased risks and threats, as with previous elections in Nigeria, in the lead up to the 2019 elections, there were incidents of arson, thuggery and destruction of property.
“This raised doubts about the capacity of the security agencies to effectively secure the electoral process. These doubts were further heightened by the fire outbreaks at three INEC offices just before the elections”, he remarked.
He further emphasized on the need to train security officers on their role in crowd control and to make them aware of the place within the setup of the polling unit and avoid being intrusive.
The EISA EOM while appreciating the efforts of the polling officials to deliver their duties with the limited facilities available and within challenging working conditions, urged INEC to provide for the welfare of polling official and ad hoc staff before and during the election day.
In the area of training of ad hoc staff, he said, “The EISA EOM is of the view that the staff did not demonstrate that they had been adequately trained, as they were not very familiar with the stipulated procedures.
“In some cases, election officials were not able to control the voters as they took instructions from the crowd of voters. During the counting, some polling staff were not fully aware of the closing procedures prompting agitation from party agents and voters.
He urged INEC to among other things; Conduct refresher training of all the elections staff to ensure that the staff can conduct the exercise in accordance with the required regulations with confidence; and provide copies of training manuals to all polling units for easy reference.
Others are to; Provide demarcation tape for polling officials to clearly mark out the perimeter of voting points for crowd control and to Train queue controllers in all polling units to contribute to orderliness of the process
While noting that there were incidents of violence and intimidation that led to loss of lives and property and injuries, the EISA EOM commiserated with the families of persons involved in incidents of violence during the elections.
The EISA EOM further commended Nigerians for their commitment and resilience and encouraged them to remain peaceful throughout the final stages of the process.