By Fortune Eromosele

Nigerian Youth Ambassador to the United States and Secretary-General, Nigerian Youth Congress, NYC, Dr. Raymond Edoh has cautioned youths in Anambra State to portray their civic rights as well as exercise their legitimate franchise role by not making themselves available to any kind of electoral violence during and after the elections.

He also appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to thread with caution while discharging her electoral incumbent roles so that the decision of the masses are not frustrated.

Edoh made the call on Tuesday in a press statement signed and made available to newsmen by his media aide, Emmanuel Daudu.

He noted that the youths have essential roles to play in the success of the election, urging them to abstain from political thuggery, ballot snatching, political terrorism and avoid being used as an instrument for vote buying and harassment.

He expressed optimism and affirmed faith in the Anambra youths after a series of engagements with youth leaders in the state in a bid to ensure the peaceful conduct of elections.

Edoh lauded Anambra youths for their patience, endurance and hope for a better Nigeria and expressed optimism that there will be joy at the end of the tunnel.

“I sincerely want to thank the Eastern youths of Nigeria. They have proven and shown their unreserved quest for a better Nigeria. But one thing is sure, we will all have a cause to celebrate at the end of the tunnel. Please, I am pleading with you all, to continue keeping faith in the Nigerian Project, all is going to be fine again, I assure us all”, he added.

Reacting to the number of police personnel allocated for the election, he said:  “36,000 to be deployed in the Anambra election, this is a huge number to be engaged for an election as their presence alone will create tension which is already high. In a  survey recently conducted by CLEEN Foundation, more than half of the respondents (56 percent) agreed and 34 percent strongly agreed that aggressive and excessive use of force by the security forces on the civilians could cause electoral violence.

“Similarly, over half of the respondents (51 percent) agreed and 24 percent strongly agreed that inadequate or excessive presence of security agents could cause electoral violence.

“The survey reveals that lack of synergy between INEC and the security agencies in the country can compromise peaceful conduct of election in Anambra State. These findings underscore the role of professionalism on the part of security agents in the prospect of peaceful elections.”

He opined that such huge numbers are not needed in policing an election, noting that  the issues on ground is more of attitudinal and behavioural problems.

He said, “Instructions to the personnel are key and their professional conduct on election duty. Following best standard practice, such huge numbers are not needed to policing an election. If only the officers will adhere to rules as the issue is more of attitudinal and behavioural, as what will come to play will be more of intimidation.

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“The security personnel are expected to do what is right as observed during some recent elections conducted in Nigeria. Their professional conduct contributes to the overall success of the election.”

He added that “Rule of engagement that will be carried out matters, is it driven by the application of FORCE or BEST PRACTICES IN POLICING ELECTIONS. what does code of conduct mean to them especially in a volatile setting like Anambra state?

“It is also important that they do not get influenced by what they see as money, definitely it will be placed in view and this brings us to the issue of welfare packages to avoid exposing the personnel in the hand of these politicians.

“Inter-agency coordination and collaboration are crucial for improved service delivery. There is need for the security agencies to come together and compare notes for proper deployment of the personnel ahead of the election.”

The Nigerian youth ambassador also stressed the need to intensify surveillance patrols and interdiction operations in high-crime hot spots to deter drug and weapons dealings in the state.

He maintained that “The Nigerian Police Force should implement robust and right-sized deployment of operatives across the 21 LGAs to ensure adequate security provisioning before, during and after the election.

“Publicise non-classified aspects of security arrangements for the election to boost the confidence of the people to come out and vote.

“Ensure that the allowances of security personnel on election duties are adequately provided for and paid fully as and when due. Develop a robust strategy for rapid deployment of the military to flashpoints of violence, to be activated only when and where there are serious security breaches that overwhelm the capacity of the police”.

He called for collaboration between the police force and INEC to diligently prosecute all those arrested if any, for violating the provisions of the Electoral Act, including vote-buying, as it would help discourage electoral malpractice.

“Expand capacity building for personnel on critical subjects such as election security, human rights observance, and evidence preservation. Sustain and deepen inter-agency collaboration in the area of drug interdiction, anti-cultism operations, and mopping up of small arms and light weapons”, he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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