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2019: Security agencies must take public oath of neutrality, insists CSO

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The Situation Room has called on the security agencies who will be deployed to election duties to make a public declaration of neutrality before, during and after the elections, and that no restrictions are placed on the campaigns of any candidates in any part of the country.

The Situation Room which is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria also called on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to put a transparent results collation process in place, commit to publishing the collation process no less than 15 days after the election, and ensure unfettered access by accredited observers and all party agents to collation centres, as well as non-participation of security agents in collation process at any level

At the launch of a threshold document released at the unveiling of the Situation Room Hub for the elections, Clement Nwankwo, the Convener of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room said the measures outlined are the minimum expectations that the conduct of the 2019 elections must meet to pass the test of free, fair and credible elections.

According to him, “the Situation Room demanded that INEC must ensure that there is absence of multiple registrations, removal of under-aged and deceased voters in collaboration with the National Population Commission, ensure alignment between election data and demographic data; keep timely adherence to guidelines for display of Voter Register, give voters sufficient time to verify their details; and audit of PVC collection process and rates, uncollected PVCs, and protocol for storage and protection.

“INEC must also publicise to all stakeholders, the reforms it has made regarding any malfunctioning of the Smart Card Reader (SCR), during the Accreditation and Voting procedure and make a commitment to a special audit in the event of a 5% card reader incidence failure.

“Situation Room also called for efficient and accountable Election Administration of the elections asking that ballot paper designs exclude parties without any candidates; publicise and share plans for voting and security arrangements for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) around the country; and promote inclusiveness and enfranchisement for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
“Situation Room called on political parties to comply with election laws and regulations, shun hate speech and violence during campaigns and avoid perpetrating fraud, malpractice etc. on Election Day. It also called on political parties to train and deploy polling agents to represent their parties and commit to every stage of the elections as well as commit to respecting the outcome of the General Elections.”

He said that the Security Agencies, namely Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Police and the Army must ensure that “all security deployment must be under the operational directive of INEC and that security agencies make a public declaration of neutrality before, during and after the elections, and that no restrictions are placed on the campaigns of any candidates in any part of the country. Security agencies must also not instigate violence or intimidate voters, candidates or polling agents.
“Importantly, Situation Room called on agencies to comply with section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which gives INEC the responsibility of requesting the deployment of security personnel necessary for the elections.

“Lastly, Situation Room called on governments at state and federal levels, to ensure that all parties have access to public facilities during the campaigns, that there are no restrictions of their movement and ensure that State institutions are not used to intimidate or harass candidates and avoid the resort to clamping down on the opposition candidates or parties based on spurious charges”

Clement Nwankwo stated that Situation Rooms call on the credibility or not of the 2019 General Elections will be on the basis of these outlined thresholds because Nigerians deserve free, fair and credible elections, and Situation Room expects that all stakeholders will deliver on these expectations.

In attendance at the launch of the threshold document were civil society leaders, diplomats, election stakeholders and the media.

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