Insecurity, executive impunity may mar 2023 polls, says Yiaga Africa
A Civil Society Organisation, Yiaga Africa, has said that the high rate of insecurity and executive impunity, especially by state governors, may impact on the conduct and outcome of the 2023 general election.
Yiaga, in its pre-election observation report, signed by Sam Itodo, its executive secretary, and made available to the media over the weekend in Osogbo, said that the report was conducted through its Watching The Vote project.
It said 822 long-term observers were deployed across the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) to observe the pre-election environment and report findings bi-weekly.
The report captured activities of the key election stakeholders; INEC, political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), as well as indicators of electoral violence.
According to the group, the current security challenges, economic realities and political neutrality and composition of the election management body, both at the national and sub-national levels were contexts that created a more vulnerable system to electoral manipulation and electoral violence.
It said these factors were risk factors for the conduct of credible and acceptable elections.
The report also stated that the major issues that may impact on the process includes security of election personnel, materials, citizens, issues bordering on logistics, especially for the deployment of poll officials and materials in hard-to-reach communities due to difficult and inaccessible terrain.
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The group noted that despite deliberate efforts by key stakeholders to ensure smooth processes, election periods were often not without foundational issues, which tended to undermine its credibility.
The report noted that more worrisome were the growing attacks on facilities and offices of INEC at the state level, with the most recent attacks of destroying offices in Abeokuta South in Ogun, Edeh South LGA in Osun, Izzi LGA in Ebonyi and Oru West LGA in Imo states.
The report also said that there was pre-election violence in the form of verbal and physical attacks in some local government areas in the country.
It said a total of 60 reports of violent verbal attacks and 46 reports of violent physical attacks were received from 27 states of the country.
The report noted that the violence is more dominant in Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Niger, Katsina, Rivers and Oyo states.
The organisation also said that it received and confirmed a total of 21 critical incident reports within the last one month.
It said the report included incidents of hate speech, attacks on rallies, fighting between communities, attacks on INEC facilities, attacks against candidates or their supporters, voters’ inducement and vandalism or destruction of properties belonging to either candidates or their supporters.