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Centre Commissions Bayelsa State Governorship Election Observers Situation Room

…………Trains Observers for the Bayelsa State Governorship Election scheduled for the 16th of November 2019. 
By Kehinde Adewole
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The Centre for Credible Leadership & Citizens Awareness has officially commissioned its Observers Situation Room toward the Bayelsa State Governorship Election scheduled for the 16th of November 2019 as well embarked on training of observers.

Speaking during the commissioning, the Director General of the Centre, Dr. Nwambu Gabriel said that in collaboration with over 100 Non-Governmental Organizations and 18 INEC Accredited Observer Organizations, the Coalition has developed a strategic plan to mitigate the incidences of electoral related violence and result manipulation for the 2019 Governorship Election in Bayelsa state.

Among the strategic plans is the inauguration of the Situation Room called "Democracy Watch Nigeria" where, all our observers across the 8 LGAs would be able to send information from the Polling Units and Polling Points to our system Online and Real-time.

Also, the Coalition said it will ensure that politicians who sponsor, fund, aide or abate violence must be reported to the Law enforcement agencies and be made to face the full wrath of the law.

"We are not stopping there; we would make sure that stringent sanctions are made. Our coalition would also report these politicians to foreign embassies and ensure that travel ban and restriction are issued on perpetrators and their families. Politicians must learn to play by the rules, Dr. Gabriel said.

The statement read, "In any democratic state, it is necessary that elections comply with stipulated rules to ensure a smooth power transition in line with democratic principles and Global best standards. In other words, the rights of citizens is said to be violated when there is a variance and a disconnect between the electoral processes and the requisite guide lines governing the conduct of any election.

"The manipulation of an electoral process leads to the emergence of an unpopular candidate as it is done against the wish of the electorates. In true democracy, power is said to reside with the people. Therefore an aberration of an electoral process is not only anti-democratic but such barbaric act is against civilization by all standards.

"Statistics from the 2019 General Elections shows that 607 Nigerians were murdered in cold blood as a result of electoral related violence. Consequently, the number of deaths, fatalities and injuries in Bayelsa state elections has been on the increase. Electoral violence has taken the centre stage of our electoral system. Electoral related violence could be categorized into 3. The Pre-Election Violence, Election Violence and Post-election Violence.

"Recall that in 2015, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was deploying the process of accrediting voters between 8 and 2pm before voting commences by 2pm, the election result in Southern Ijaw during the first ballot had the election result far in excess of the total number of registered voters in that Local Government . This rather ugly and embarrassing trend compelled INEC to reconsider the simultaneous accreditation and voting in the same area to conclude the election process.

"Following the introduction of the Card Reader, some desperate politicians who could no longer write results in the comfort of their sitting rooms now resort to carrying physical cash to polling units. Consequently, this has given rise to vote buying/selling.

"The electoral violence once again resurfaced in a more fierce dimension in Bayelsa state in the 2019 General Elections which recorded more incidences of violence in the state.

"Sadly, electoral related violence has been on the increase because politicians do not see occupation of public offices as a call to service but rather as an opportunity to amerce wealth as much as possible. This situation might not vary over a long time until the psych of politicians change in terms of their perception of what the occupation of public office ought to be.

"The level of violence in Bayelsa state elections being classified as volatile state is embarrassing to Nigeria and a monumental and national shame.

"Consequently, the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness in collaboration with over 100 Non-Governmental Organizations and 18 INEC Accredited Observer Organizations has developed a strategic plan to mitigate the incidences of electoral related violence and result manipulation for the 2019 Governorship Election in Bayelsa state.

"Firstly, the organization has inaugurated a Situation Room called "Democracy Watch Nigeria". Here, all our observers across the 8 LGAs would be able to send information from the Polling Units and Polling Points to our system Online and Real-time.

"We here tender a special appeal to the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police to provide security for our staff and situation room.

"Secondly, the Organization has embarked on a "Peace Walk" on Tuesday 5th Nov 2019. This sensitization targets the electorates and populace on the need for peace, non-Violence, Free, Fair and credible election.

"Thirdly, our Coalition would ensure that politicians who sponsor, fund, aide or abate violence must be reported to the Law enforcement agencies and be made to face the full wrath of the law. We are not stopping there; we would make sure that stringent sanctions are made. Our coalition would also report these politicians to foreign embassies and ensure that travel ban and restriction are issued on perpetrators and their families. Politicians must learn to play by the rules.

"The Nigerian Police is the lead Agency in terms of internal security and the conduct of power transition such as elections. The military and Para Military are not left out. Instances of erring officers and men involved in electoral malpractices, intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes, etc, must also be reported and perpetrators be made to face the full wrath of the law. No sacred cows.

"However, there have been reported cases of erring Ad Hoc Staff and Staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). We are also aware that INEC as a commission has taken drastic measures to check and curtail these incidences of erring officers of the commission. Our job essentially is also to observe the degree of compliance of the electoral management body to the relevant laws for the conduct of elections. We would not relent in ensuring that the right thing is done.

"Again, our coalition is worried about the IDPs living in Bayelsa state and their ability to exercise their fundamental human rights come 16th of November. The affected areas are Nembe- Bassambiri, Peremabiri in Southern Ijaw. The harassment of voters in Okpoama in Brass LGA. In Twon Brass, Mr. Tope Okunola an Assistant Commissioner of Police was assaulted and almost killed during the 2019 General elections. These are people displaced by violence. We believe that no voter should be threatened, humiliated or subjected to ridicule irrespective of his/her party affiliation. Results of areas that are disrupted with violence on no condition should be accepted.

"In the stakeholders meeting, the Inspector General of Police mentioned that the police is set to provide security for them if vehicles to convey them from the IDP camp to their various polling units was made available.

"The Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness is concerned in ensuring that every vote counts and that no eligible voter is disenfranchised for no fault of his. We would want to know INECs plan for the IDPs.

"Finally, we want to reiterate our support for INEC, the conduct of transparent elections in tandem with the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act 2010 As Amended and INEC Regulations and guideline synonymous with Global best practices.

Speaking at the event, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Bayelsa State, Pastor Monday Udoh Tom, represented by the Administrative Secretary, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Bayelsa State, Dr. Edwin Enabor, he said that before 2015 General Election, Observers were not recognised and was put under the Voters Education Department but because of its importance, INEC now has a department for Observers and capacity training are carried out to all accredited Observers who have been investigated and unbiased.

He called on the Observers to go round and ensure the election process is conducted according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and International best practice and their report made available to the Independent National Electoral Commission after the election.

He further urged the Observers to be unbiased in their observation and report because their reports or criticism can have a great effect on legibility of any election.

The Royal Father of the day and Chairman Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Majesty Diete Spiff, called on the electorate to vote for their conscience and a suitable person among the candidates contesting the election.

He also called on the observers to be unbiased and give a credible report as seen on the field during the Saturday Governorship Election

He promised to collaborate with the over 100 Non-Governmental Organizations that made up the Coalition for Peace Management training.

The program was brought to an end with commencement of training programmes for the 18 accredited observers