Election Observers Decry Deployment Of Masked Security Operatives

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Election observers, under the aegis of CLEEN Foundation, have said that the deployment of masked security operatives as it obtained during the August 9 governorship election in Osun State will encourage miscreants to operate unhindered if encouraged in future elections in Nigeria.

Speaking on their observation on the conduct of security agents during the Osun State gubernatorial election, the programme manager of the foundation, Mr Chinedu Nwagu, decried the massive deployment of security operatives, saying the security agents should rather plan ahead of each election and ensure adequate logistics because such deployment cannot be sustained especially when an election is nationwide.

He said that though the performance of INEC was commendable, the training and effective deployment of ad hoc staff and materials should be improved upon, adding that there is the need to improve the quality of the voter register and minimise incidents of voter exclusion because of missing or inaccurate data.

“The deployment strategy for security agencies on electoral duty should be revised and improved upon to ensure adequate coverage of polling units and flash point areas,” he said.

Nwagu recommended that security agencies should work towards better coordination and synergy among their personnel on election duty, with   identification tags given to those deployed, to ensure they are held accountability for their conduct.

CLEEN called on INEC to prosecute electoral offenders to serve as a deterrent to people who might want to get involved in such actions in the future.

On the conduct of politicians,, the group called for caution in the use of inflammatory statements during electioneering, to avoid instigating people to violence.

Meanwhile, against the background of alleged arbitrariness by the security agencies drafted to the state by the federal government, the European Union Election Monitoring team has urged the Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, to seek legal redress.

The coordinator, EU Election Monitoring Group, Paul Edwards, gave the advice when his team paid a courtesy visit to the governor at his residence after the announcement of the election results.

In his congratulatory remark to Aregbesola, Edwards said the most dependable way to deepen democracy in Nigerian is by strict adherence to the rule of law.

Aregbesola had complained about the reckless use of force, arrest without charges and total clampdown on party chieftains by the security agencies, to the EU.

The EU envoy observed that the most acceptable and preferred way to challenge arbitrariness of opposition is to seek legal remedy.

“We have observed the election all over the state and have our reports.

“In any election like this, there are bounds to be issues. But it is our opinion that whatever the complaint you have, you should choose the legal option to seek remedy.

In his remark, Aregbesola commended the EU Monitoring Group for the organisation’s interest and commitment to development of democracy in Nigeria.

Aregbesola, however, lamented the show of brute force by federal government’s security operatives.

The governor observed that voting was a minute aspect of a democracy, but that as tiny as it was, it should not be backed by force so that people can freely choose their leaders.

He also condemned the commando-like manner the hooded security men operated on the streets in the state and the gale of arrests of members, chieftains and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

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