Security Agents Intimidated Voters In Osun Gov’ship Re-run – NHRC

In a report it presented to the Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has accused the security agents of partisanship and intimidation of members of the opposition in the rerun polls.

The re-run election was won by the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC),  Gboyega Oyetola, who was trailing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declined to announce the winner because the margin was insignificant in the first poll.

While presenting its report on the election to the tribunal, NHRC urged the federal government to ensure that security personnel on election duty demonstrate neutrality and non-partisanship in their conduct in future polls.

NHRC in its final report on the September 2018 governorship election and the re-run race raised several security concerns including the harassment of voters and observers.

An assistant director from the commission’s Monitoring Department, Mr. Iheme Richmond, who submitted the report to tribunal yesterday, noted that while the main election of 22nd September, 2018 should be commended, same could not be done for the re-run held on the 27th September.

Iheme said that he led a 30-member NHRC observer team to monitor the elections. His report was admitted by the tribunal as Exhibits B-593 and B-593(a).

In the report obtained by LEADERSHIP, the commission observed that there were security compromise during the election re-run held on the 27th September, 2018.

He said: “Law enforcement officials on election duty demonstrated improved respect for human rights during the main Osun State election of 22nd September, 2018. Cases of brutality or intimidation by security officials in relation to the election were not reported.

“There seemed to be compromise of election security in the re-run election which held on the 27th September, by the apparent inaction of the security personnel on election duty to stop the intimidation of members of the opposition party, allegedly by members of the ruling party, especially in Orolu local government area,” Iheme said.

The report indicated that there were attempts by some thugs to prevent the NHRC monitors from passing through the lonely remote bush path leading to some polling units.

The commission, however, recommended that security personnel on election duty must demonstrate neutrality and non-partisanship in their conduct.

“They ought to apprehend those violating the electoral laws or committing crime in the course of the election. For instance, it is a crime to interfere with voting through intimidation or rigging, or to induce voters. The punishments for these are clear under the law. However, enforcement appears weak. Failure to prosecute these or related electoral crimes reinforces impunity. It is therefore imperative for security personnel to stand-up to their responsibilities objectively and effectively,” NHRC said.

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