Kimpact Development Initiative, KDI, a civil society group has called for a concerted effort among Security agencies, National Orientation Agency, traditional leaders, Media professionals and Civil Society organizations towards averting violence during the gubernatorial elections in Ondo State.
This was noted in a report produced by KDI on Nigeria Election Violence Report, NEVR election security risk assessment in Ondo State.
The survey carried out by KDI on the security risk assessment reveals that “Party Thugs (66.1%)” constitute a significant risk of the twelve clearly defined risk factors and actors that could cause electoral violence, “Vote Buying (50.6%)” is also one risk factor that requires attention which is closely followed by Party thugs on the risk factor chart.
“Partiality of INEC cannot be over-ruled. Ondo state indigenes also see this as important as any show of partiality from INEC could trigger violence in the state. Undue Interference by party agents (27.7%), fake news (25.1%) and partiality of security agencies (24.8%) are also seen as vital, as it is not far in the degree to the topmost.”
KDI, however, recommended that “the Police must find a way to curb “people in government-sponsored” violence.
“These actors unleash violence with impunity, knowing that the Police investigation will not yield any result, nor will there be a consequence.
“The law on the withdrawal of security aid of politicians 24 hours before the election must be strictly adhered to as the politicians use their security personnel to foment trouble in the election.
“Security personnel on election duty should be neutral in the forthcoming election, as any show of partisanship could incite violence in the election.
“Election Security Control Center should also popularize their dedicated hotlines for the elections amidst the citizen so that citizens can call in to give them information as regards security.”
Regarding the National Orientation Agency, NOA, the group noted that there should be “increased sensitization of electorates on the election day processes and procedures to increase the understanding of voters on the process.
“INEC and NOA can collaborate on this, and use social media and SMS as an innovative means to ensure the information is far-reaching.
Also, KDI urged traditional rulers, who are gatekeepers of the communities, “to use their platforms to reach out and sensitize the citizens on the need for peaceful elections.
“There are reports of some traditional leaders intimidating their subject to vote in a particular direction, harbouring criminals in their communities, the Council of traditional rulers should speak against such acts and ensure that such vital.
Media organizations were urged to be neutral in their reporting.
The report read in part that, “there is a need to build the capacity of journalists for effective investigative journalism in Nigeria so as to avoid fake and/or biased news reporting.
“Government-owned media institutions must provide equal access for all political parties to air their adverts and jingles in line with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) codes.
“INEC and their officials should be neutral in the forthcoming election, as any show of partisanship could incite violence in the election.
“INEC ad-hoc staff and officials should be well trained on the display of professionalism at polling units.
“There is a need for INEC to engage key stakeholders/actors to elicit their commitment to a peaceful election.
“INEC should partner with CSO/CBOs in Ondo state to amplify its voter education. This voter education exercise should also include peace messaging.”