Anambra election: Yiaga Africa laments Insecurity, non-distributed PVCs, other issues
By Sunday Elom
Seven days to the November 6 Anambra State governorship election, Yiaga Africa [an election monitoring civil society organization] has expressed worries over the level of insecurity, none distribution of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to the 76,104 voters recently registered during the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), low voter education and inducement of electorates by some candidates in the state.
Speaking at a media conference held in Awka, the Anambra State capital ahead of the election, Yiaga Africa’s board member, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, said that their worries arose from the reports of the organization’s Watch the Vote (WTV) pre-election observers.
The pre-election observation according to Mr. Nwagwu focused on election preparatory activities by stakeholders, election violence or threats of violence and violations of the electoral code of conduct. The reports confirmed that the state is currently saturated with fear of safety following “the recent threats by secessionist groups to shut down the region (South East) if certain conditions are not met.”
This according to Yiaga Africa “has continued to remain a major threat to the election” and “the recent volatility of the state has continued to hinder political party campaigns, voter education and mobilization.”
For safety, “political parties have resorted to campaign strategies like campaigns at close-door locations, media adverts rather than their traditional outdoor rallies and campaign trails. This has widened the existing gap between candidates and prospective voters especially because the avenues for engaging candidates and parties on the agenda are almost non-existent.
“The continued attacks on political rallies and campaigns by assailants have affected campaigns and rallies by political parties ahead of the election,” Mr. Nwagwu said.
There were also reports of physical attacks during political parties’ campaign rallies in Ihiala and Nnewi local government areas. According to the reports, assailants attacked candidate and supporters of APGA during the party’s rally in Ihiala where one person was shot in the leg.
Also in Anambra East and Ihiala local government areas, Yiaga Africa’s observers reported “excessive use of force and intimidation by security forces (military personnel)” on people.
Whereas the reports identified INEC’s preparatory activities in the state to include training of ad-hoc staff as well as publication of the notice of poll at the state and local government levels, distribution of PVCs in 16 local government areas, there was no record of distribution of PVCs in Anambra East, Aguata, Idemili North, Dunukofia and Onitsha South local government areas.
On violation of electoral code of conduct, Yiaga Africa reported “distribution of fabrics materials (Ankara) during party campaigns” in some parts of the state.
According to the organization, its observer in Awka North “heard about the distribution of money (N1,500) during an APC (All Progressive Congress) rally in the LGA,” while “observers in Ayamelum, Idemili North and Onitsha South LGAs also heard about the distribution of monies or gift items during political party rallies.”
In view of its observations ahead of the November 6 governorship election in the state, Yiaga Africa therefore called on INEC to “ensure more consistent and harmonious coordination within the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on measures to forestall incidences of violence and ensure the safety of voters and poll officials.
“As a matter of urgency collaborate with CSOs (Civil Society Organizations), NOA (National Orientation Agency) and other relevant stakeholders to amplify and intensify voter education across the state.
“Security agencies should ensure that their personnel are adequately trained on election security before they are deployed for the election while deploying monitoring mechanisms to checkmate and curtail personnel excesses.”