Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
As the country prepares for the 2019 general elections in the next two weeks, vote buying has been identified as the leading risk factor that could generate tension or electoral violence during the polls.
This came to the fore on Tuesday, during a two-day capacity building workshop in Makurdi for police officers on election security management for the 2019 general election organised by CLEEN Foundation, a non governmental organisation (NGO) in Nigeria.
Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Benson Olugbuo, in his opening remark at the workshop explained that the findings followed a nationwide survey conducted between October and December, 2018 by the foundation.
The survey, according to Olugbuo, was to identify electoral violence which are likely to affect this year’s general election and to help INEC as well as security agencies including the civil society organisations to deploy appropriate responses.
“The survey examined potential security threats to the 2019 general elections across 36 states of the federation and the FCT and found out that vote buying is the foremost of the 14 risk factors that could generate tension or electoral violence.”
Olugbuo who was represented by the organisation’s Project Manager, Chigozirim Okoro, listed other likely factors to cause electoral violence to include, political parties, religious extremists, cultists and other armed groups, security agents, hate speech, drug abuse, exclusion of certain groups on the bases of age, gender and religious identity as well as media partisanship.
He however urged the police take the lead in ensuring election security, stressing that there would be need to enhance the capacity of officers as a way of preparing them to be able to adequately and professionally monitor the elections and ensure effective management which the workshop aimed to achieve.
Olugbuo further called on the police participants to both strive towards achieving the much needed peace and security during the electoral process as well as consolidate and deepen the nation’s democracy.
In a remark, Commissioner of Police in the state, Omololu Bishi, stated that although, it is the duty of INEC to conduct elections, the police has the responsibility of promoting and providing adequate security before, during and after the elections.
Participants and organisers in group photograph during the workshop (commissioner of police, Bishi at the middle) in Makurdi on Tuesday.