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INEC AND THE POLICE MUST DEMONSTRATE THEIR COMMITMENT TO THE CREDIBILITY OF THE NOVEMBER 16, 2013 ANAMBRA POLLS

By Okechukwu Nwanguma

As the November 16, 2013 Anambra State Governorship election approaches, amidst the highly tensed and contentious atmosphere in which political parties are conducting their electoral campaigns;

Considering the exacerbating tensions arising from the politics of bitterness, petty mudslinging and blatant display of intolerance which clearly manifests in the ongoing trading of blames and counter blames by contending political sides over the recent tragic Uke adoration stampede that resulted to unfortunate loss of over 20 lives;

Noting the widespread expression of doubts- across party lines- about the independence and integrity of the Anambra State REC and other INEC officials assigned to oversee the election, and the fears that they may not guarantee free and fair elections;

Considering that all the foregoing are clear indicators which altogether raise legitimate fears that fraud and violence may mar the Anambra governorship election:

Therefore:
Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), a network of 46 civil society organisations spread across Nigeria and committed to promoting police accountability and respects for human rights and the enhancement of safety, security and justice, hereby calls on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr. MD Abubakar to take expedient measures to ensure that the November 16, 2013 Anambra State Governorship election is peaceful, credible and reflects the democratic will of the Anambra electorate.

NOPRIN calls on INEC to replicate the strategy it employed in the stiffly contested Imo State Supplementary elections of 2011 by deploying one special Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) to each of the three Senatorial Zones in Anambra to administer the polls in the respective Senatorial Zones.

The phone numbers of the RECs should be made available before the election day to election observers/ monitors, voters and the public to enable them make complaints through phone calls or SMS in the event of any disruption of the voting process, infraction of the electoral law or misconduct by electoral or security officials, party agents, supporters or any person or group who may attempt to interfere with or disrupt the voting process. The RECs will be able to promptly intervene by communicating such reports with INEC officials at the particular polling booths or call the attention of INEC headquarters and/or security authorities for immediate intervention.

Similarly, the Inspector General of Police is hereby called upon to also deploy one AIG to each of the three Senatorial Zones to oversee security in the respective zones. They will also receive complaints about any security breach or misconduct by security officials on election duty in their respective zones. The dedicated mobile phone numbers of the AIGs should also be made available to observers and members of the public for complaints about any incident through SMS and phone calls for immediate intervention.

We believe that these proposed measures, as has been demonstrated in Imo State, will help to douse tension, build confidence and enhance the security and credibility of the polls.

INEC and the police must also put in place effective measures that will ensure that electoral offenders are arrested and promptly charged and prosecuted in appropriate courts to send a clear signal that impunity for electoral banditry, vote rigging and any act that subverts the expression of the people's democratic will shall no longer be tolerated- if our unstable democracy must be strengthened.

INEC and the Police must demonstrate their commitment to the credibility of the November 16, 2013 Anambra polls.

For further inquiry, please contact:
Okechukwu Nwanguma
Program and Advocacy Coordinator
08064974531