…OSUN: AS ELECTION MONITORS BEMOAN SECURITY AGENCIES’ ROLE

There are fresh indications that the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is, once again, disturbed by the role of personnel of security agencies in the electoral process as the integrity of the  2019 general elections appears to hang in the balance based on reports of election monitors.

Penultimate Sunday, Vanguard had published a news analysis where the fears of the Election Management Body, EMB, had been ventilated.

INEC
INEC boss

In the report, the charade that occurred in Rivers State, where a constituency election comprising 140 Polling Units, PUs, witnessed the alleged connivance of personnel of security agencies with thugs disrupting voting in 101 PUs, while leaving normal voting to be carried out in just 39 PUs, was highlighted.

There were agitations for the announcement of the result of the 39 PUs where election held, as against the overwhelming 101 PUs where elections did not hold.

In that instance, INEC stood firm, canceling the entire election.

Today, based on but not even limited to the seeming indifference of security agencies during last Thursday’s election in seven PUs in Osun State, an election described by a section of election observers as being conducted below the threshold of acceptable global practices, INEC’s role preparatory to and during the election did not enjoy the full supportive complements of  personnel of security agencies.

Firstly, whereas the reason for the cancellation of the election in the seven PUs in penultimate Saturday’s election ranged from none-accreditation of voters, disruption by hoodlums, hijacking of materials by thugs to the abscondment of presiding officers, the conduct of security personnel last Thursday left much to be desired.

In fact, a very dependable source at the Zambezi Street INEC headquarters in Abuja made Sunday Vanguard understand that “the leadership of the Commission, based on the broad observation of election monitors is not particularly comfortable. The Commission did all that was expected of it in terms of preparing for that election.

“Unfortunately, those who still cannot wean themselves off this mentality of violence during election wreaked havoc that day. Unfortunately, the security agencies, in the observation of election monitors let the Commission down”.

According to an authoritative source, “delegations from the Missions of the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America observed that in contrast to the overall findings  of the vote of September 22, 2018,” last Thursday’s election did not meet the irreducible minimum standards expected.

Therefore, Sunday Vanguard was told, there are worries by a cadre of INEC’s leadership that a seeming vote of no confidence on last Thursday’s rerun election casts a pall over preparations for next year’s general election.

This, at a time when even the budget for next year’s election is yet to be passed.

Although sources say the Commission is yet to conduct a damage impact assessment on last Thursday’s events, the general perception is the seeming helplessness of arms-bearing security agents in the face of rampaging hoodlums who hijacked the process, unleashing mayhem and making it impossible to have a free and fair election, a development most of the observes frowned at.

The Commission, while insisting that it did all in its powers to ensure a free and fair rerun, the election observers are united in their perception that neutrality of personnel of security agencies remains the only way the fairness of election can be guaranteed “even during the 2019 general election”, an INEC source concluded.

 

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