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Bayelsa/Kogi Election: YIAGA AFRICA expresses worry over impending violence

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alerts security agencies over devt

By Gabriel Ewepu

Bayelsa

ABUJA- AN election observer, YIAGA AFRICA, Tuesday, expressed worry over impending violence threat to the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections coming up on November 16, 2019.

This was contained YIAGA AFRICA’s 2nd Pre-election Observation Report signed by the Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo, while speaking on the need for security agents to quickly track down any plot to truncate the electoral process without further delay.

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The group also raised concerns and highlighted some emerging trends that could snowball into a major violence that may mar the election, which include violent physical and verbal attacks during political party activities, WTV LTOs reported political party supporters having clashed over issues of lecturers been partisan or supporting candidates and competition for access to road network in Ankpa LGA in Kogi state. Other physical and verbal violence were reported from Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Nembe and Sagbama in Bayelsa state and Kabba/Bunu in Kogi state.

Recruitment of political thugs and stockpiling of arms and weapons: WTV reports possible threat to the peaceful conduct of the election with the observation of the presence of small arms and weapons in some LGA’s. LTOs identified a community called Okabb in Ankpa LGA, being used for the storage of ammunition and the recruitment of thugs, according to YIAGA AFRICA the ammunitions were discovered to have been stored prior to the 2019 general election. Other reports of recruitment of political thugs were from communities in Yenagoa and Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa state and in Okehi and Idah in Kogi state.

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Others threats include violation of electoral laws and guidelines, and trading of PVCs, voter details, which WTV findings reveal that buying and selling of PVCs still exist. WTV LTOs reported political parties moving from house to house in Ankpa LGA, Kogi state, documenting names and polling unit numbers and addresses of citizens with PVCs, while offering advance payments of N500 ahead of the election. In Bayelsa, Yenagoa LGA, findings also reveal that some citizens in Opolo and Gbarian area were selling their PVCs for N500 and N1, 000.

Campaigns based on inducement not issues, WTV monitored and tracked voter inducement through the distribution of money or gift items. The WTV LTOs found out that political party candidates or their supporters are distributing money and gift items such as vehicles in communities in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and in Okehi and Ankpa of Kogi State.

The statement reads in part, “With the emerging trends, the election campaigns are becoming more competitive and fiercely contested, WTV observed political party rallies and campaign paraphernalia including billboards and voter education campaigns from different electoral stakeholders. YIAGA AFRICA has also called on security agencies to tackle any impending threat to the upcoming Governorship elections as pre-election observation shows early warning signals of violence.”

It recommended that, “the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and political parties should develop an effective communication constructive dialogue to address challenges and requirements for achieving peaceful pre-election engagements, and credible and peaceful elections on November 16.

“INEC should step up its engagements with security agencies, to tacking violation of electoral codes (buying and selling of PVC and voter inducement) and electoral violence indicators.

“Security agencies including the police should investigate and manage the report of recruitment of thugs and stockpiling of arms, to avoid an outbreak of violence in the coming election.

“Security agencies should investigate and arrest people engaged in buying and selling of PVCs, and any form of voter inducement, to serve as a deterrent to others.

“Security agencies should engage in active engagement and communications with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and its operations ahead of the election.

“Political Parties’ candidates and supporters should shy away from any form of physical or verbal attacks to ensure credible and peaceful elections.

“All political parties, especially in Kogi state should increase their activities of engaging voters with their policy plan while soliciting their support and votes.

“Citizens including voters should get ready to vote with their PVCs and not sell it for short-time gain. Citizens should report any form of electoral malpractice or criminal act to INEC and security agencies, the police, to foster peaceful democratic transition.”

Vanguard

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