Friday, March 3, 2017 6:44 pm
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has condemned the violence that characterised the Feb. 25 re-run legislative elections in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers.
The exercise was the concluding polls for House of Representatives and State Assembly positions in the area.
A statement on Friday in Abuja by Leader of the group, Mr Clement Nwankwo, said that the poll was marred by violence in spite of extraordinary levels of security for the exercise.
“We are deeply concerned that in spite of reports of Police deployment of 3,500 personnel to the single local government election, alongside significant military forces, the violence and manipulations were bad enough.
“In spite of this heavy security presence for elections in only one local government, 25 INEC staff were injured and hospitalized and election in 44 of the 147 polling units in the area were cancelled.
“We unreservedly condemn the violence that was driven by the two major political parties in the polls.
“We also condemn the pressure placed on the two constituencies’ Collation Officers by the highest authorities in Rivers Government in the early hours of Sunday, February 26, 2017, which cannot be allowed to set a precedent for political behaviour in future,’’ the group said.
“Our observations were that in the areas we were able to observe, when polls were not interfered with, they were generally well conducted.
“But, turnouts of about 10 per cent reflected the many ongoing security and political problems in Rivers State,’’ it added.
It acknowledged the effort of INEC staff in Etche poll given that the poll justified concerns for their safety and wellbeing, especially with reports that National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) withdrew its participation.
It stated that while circumstances were difficult, there were still lessons for INEC from the Etche polls, particularly with collation, communications and security management.
The group recommended the arrest and prosecution of electoral offenders in the election.
It called on the major political parties to recognise that their conduct and leadership were creating problems that threatened the prospects of viable elections in the country.
It urged all stakeholders to support a review of elections that recognised the failure of constantly escalating security responses in the face of politically-driven turmoil.