CLEEN Foundation observed the 26 November, 2016 Governorship election in Ondo state, with specific focus on the security dimensions of the election. The mission was in furtherance of a series of interventions earlier made by the organization to enhance electoral security in the state. Such interventions included the deployment of CLEEN Foundation and INEC Electoral Institute Election Violence Mitigation Tool (EVMT), the conduct and release of a comprehensive report on Security Threat Assessment (STA) for the election and the training of senior police officers, including all Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and Area Commanders across the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state on election security management. As it has turned out, happenings across the 18 LGAs have largely validated the STA report; the same way all the interventions have positively impacted the electoral landscape in general and electoral security management in particular.
In this report, we present key findings from the reports of our observers, given that our primary focus was on electoral security management, greater attention is paid to issues in the deployment and conduct of security agents in the election.
CLEEN Foundation deployed observers across the 18 LGAs of the state. Each LGA has one stationary observer, with a checklist containing important questions about the deployment and conduct of security agents during the election. These were in addition to two other roving observers, whose activities cover at least three LGAs each. These were complemented with information sharing among partner organisations in the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room for the Ondo election under the coordination of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).
Security Agencies and Election Security
Election security management is pivotal for the promotion of election integrity by engendering political competition, participation and legitimacy and vice versa. Our observers found that the adequate provision of election security by security agencies largely explains the substantial improvement in the effectiveness of the administration of the 2016 Ondo governorship election. Security agents were found to have demonstrated exemplary professionalism that has been missing in previous elections. In particular, security agencies were found to have excelled in the following ways:
Timely deployment of security agents to PUs, RAs, collation centres and INEC offices across the 18 LGAs of the state. It was found in 33.3%, 56.6% and 11.1% of the PUs covered by our observers, security agents arrived before 7.00am, 7 – 7.59am and 8 – 8.59am respectively.
Deployment was also found to be adequate, defined mainly in terms of number of security agents per PUs. Specifically, a minimum of two (2) or three (3) or more security agents were found in 11.1% and 88.9% of PUs visited by our observers respectively.
In addition to the above, our observers found security agents to either be very adequate or adequate in 38.9% and 61.9% of the PUs they visited respectively.
Exemplary professionalism of security agents, including unusual politeness in relating with voters and electoral officers. For example, our observers found security agents to be very approachable and approachable in 66.7% and 33.3% of the PUs they covered respectively. It is also gratifying that security agents did not leave their duty post at anytime in 94.4% of the PUs visited, but did so in 5.6% others. Moreover, security agents were found to be following instructions given by the presiding officers in all (100%) of the PUs visited by our observers.
Sufficient demonstration of neutrality and impartiality across most PUs visited by our observers. Specifically, security agents were found to be very impartial and impartial in 61.1% and 33.9% of visited PUs respectively.
Discernible improvement in the level of inter-agency collaboration among security agencies during the elections. The Police, Civil Defence and a few others were seen working together harmoniously;
Prompt response to distress calls, as was the case in PU 005, Ward 3, Akoko South East LGA where thugs had hijacked SCR and ballot papers. The DPO quickly reacted by leading his men, in the company of INEC’s Electoral Officer for the LGA and supervisor from Akure;
Resort to aerial surveillance through the use of helicopters that flew round the LGAs during the election. This, together with other improvements, enhances people’s feeling of safety and security during the election. People felt very safe and secure, safe and secure and somewhat safe and secure in 50%, 44.4% and 5.6% of the PUs visited by our observers.
Provision of escort for the deployment of electoral materials and officers;
Overall, the performance of security agents in the Ondo election was found to be very good in 61.1%; good in 33.3% and fair in 5.6% of the PUs visited by CLEEN Foundation’s observers.
There were also some unhelpful trends in the deployment and conduct of security agents:
A few cases of professional misconduct were reported by our observers. These include collection of ‘brown envelop’ from party agents and/or chieftains, drunkenness and inappropriate dressing;
The welfare question again was very prominent as many security agents reportedly complained about their deployment without attention to their feeding and related allowances. Many of them resorted begging for money to eat;
Poor response to some cases, particularly vote buying by party agents on the day of the election;
Source: CLEEN Foundation