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INEC, security agencies” synergy may affect Anambra poll credibility

An election observer group, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), has expressed worry over the corporation existing between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies ahead of the Saturday governorship election in Anambra state.

Addressing newsmen in Awka, the Executive Director of the group, Samson Itodo, said lack of cordial relationship between the two major stakeholders in the conduct of the exercise might likely undermine the credibility of the poll.

He also attributed the minimal number of voter education messages targeted at youth, women and persons with disability to insufficient collaboration of INEC with other stakeholders, including the National Orientation Agency.

"The integrity of the elections could be compromised if the security and safety of citizens, election officials, observers, journalists, as well as the deployment of sensitive and non-sensitive materials to the polling units is not guaranteed.

"The Police has announced it will conduct raids on ‘black spots’ and enforce a ‘stop and search’ order during the elections. We expect the security agencies will perform their duties with a high sense of responsibility, civility, professionalism and transparency," he said.

Itodo however noted that the level of turnout of women and youth for voter registration was high, while the level of youth and women candidacy in the election was abysmally poor.

"50.3% of registered voters are women while 49.6% are men signalling a high level of women participation in the electoral process. Students constitute the highest number of registered voters with 48% representation in the register. 

"5 out of 37 candidates are women and 4 out of 37 candidates fall within the youth bracket of 35 years," he said.

According to Itodo, the likely difficulties accredited observers might encounter in observing results collation in some centres particularly in centres with large number of register voters and polling units might also pose a challenge during the exercise.

He urged the Supervising Polling Officers (SPOs) and INEC monitors to ensure that the Presiding Officers comply with the directives of posting of polling unit results at the polling unit using FORM EC 60 E. T as directed by the electoral umpire.

On the level of hate speeches among the candidates of the various political parties, the group identified three major forms of hate speech in the state based on gender, faith and age.

"Our finding reveals the following local governments are flashpoints of violence Aniocha, Aguata, Idemili North, Ekwusigo, Nnewi South and Orumba South LGA.

"Reports on violent physical or verbal attacks on political party rallies and meetings remains relatively few. However, there were few reports of vandalism and disruption of property belonging to candidates or supporters. This was observed in 14% of the 21 LGAs," it said.

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