A Civil Society Organization, Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) with support from International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) implemented the Nigeria Election Violence Report (NEVR) project during the 2019 election and has made their findings public.
This was made known in a press release made available by the Programme Lead, Kingsley Atang, who stated that asides to monitor and give insight into electoral violence experienced in Nigeria at the 2019 polls, the NEVR project aimed to increase public knowledge and awareness on the dangers of election violence, and increase participation and involvement of election stakeholders in the mitigation and prevention of election violence.
“The project started off with mapping of violence hotspots in these six states. Based on these findings 28 local government areas in these states were selected for the monitoring exercise. 180 monitors were trained and deployed to these LGAs to monitor Pre-Elections, Election Days and Post Elections violence for this exercise”, Mr. Atang added.
These monitors tracked and documented incidences of violence in these LGAs before, during and after the elections. Media partners also worked with the monitors to verify and validate the findings in the field and were also corroborated by relevant stakeholders and institutions of government.
The project was carried out the sis States of South – South Geopolitical region: Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta and Rivers States.
The report shows that a total of 14 persons were killed in Akwa Ibom State. The deaths were recorded in Nsit Ibom, Ibiono, Mob, Ukanafun, and Obot Akara Local Government Areas. Many persons sustained physical injuries, some to gunshots and machetes. Public properties were destroyed including the INEC office in Ibesikpo Asutan, and Obot Akara Local Government Areas.
For Cross River State, a total of nine persons were confirmed death; three others reported death are yet to be confirmed. In Obudu five (5) persons sustained physical injuries, six (6) in Ikom/Etung and two (2) in Calabar municipality. Public and private properties were destroyed in Bendeghe Ekim in Etung Local Government Area.
In Edo State were only Presidential and House of Assembly elections were held, there was no record of death, physical injury nor any form of violence. This was attributed to the extensive sensitization by CSOs in the State.
Four (4) persons were killed in Nembe Bassambiri, and several others including a PDP ward chairman, Mr. Seidougha Tariba and a government house photographer, Mr. Reginald Dei, sustained gunshot injuries in Bayelsa State.
Prior to the elections in Rivers State, several arrests were made by security agencies and this stirred up tension and fear among voters. More than 70 persons were killed. Some of the deaths were recorded in Andoni, Okrika, Khana. 50 persons were shot dead in Abonima during a gun duel between security operatives and local armed gangs. There was widespread violence, ballot box snatching, intimidation and beating up of voters by security agents.
For Delta State, two persons were confirmed dead in Oviri and Warri South. There were cases of voter intimidation by unidentified armed men, ballot box snatching by herdsmen and violent attack on INEC ad-hoc staff (corps members).
Some of the observations made include late opening of polls due to the late delivery into the states of key election items, which resulted in reduced voter turn out
Another was the Conduct of Security Officials and Military Personnel and several reports were made about the police aiding political thugs either in ballot box snatching or the disruption of electoral processes.
Moreso, the majority of serious incidents reported related to control of the collation of results, where there were serious, often violent clashes. There were serious partisan breakdowns over the collation of results in all of the States observed.
Among the Recommendations given were “improved preparation, conduct and management of subsequent elections by INEC, enthronement of the constitution in the Nigeria polity. Intensified efforts to reduce election violence in order to restore confidence in the electoral process and enable more voters participate in voting.”
“There needs to be a strong shift from manual voting to electronic voting backed by political will in order to eliminate manual collation and reduce Violence.”
“All persons engaged as staff or ad-hoc staff of INEC and security operatives must undertake oath of neutrality in line with S. 28 of The Electoral Act, Proper tagging of Military and Police personnel working as security on Election Day for easy identification.”
“It is critical for the next set of polls that questions over partisan security force behaviour are resolved and that scope for violence around collation is also reduced”
The NEVR Project was also in collaboration with five other civil society organisations namely; Social Development Integrated Centre (Rivers State), Edo Civil Society Organization (Edo State), Foundation for Non-Violent Social Change (Delta State), Nembe City Development Foundation (Bayelsa State) and The Bridge Leadership Foundation (Cross River State).