From Tunde Rahman, Lokoja
Election monitoring group, YIAGA Africa, weekend admonished security agencies to tackle what it calls “the impending threat to the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States,” claiming that “pre-election observation” indicates “early signals of violence.”
The Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, spoke via a statement issued in Lokoja,after its second pre-election observation report carried out by its ‘Watching The Vote Long Term Observers.’
According to the group, political parties in Bayelsa State were engaging more in political campaigns than in Kogi State.
The organisation also alleged recruitment of political thugs and stockpiling of arms and weapons, violation of electoral laws and guidelines, “while campaigns have been based on inducement and not on issues.”
“Security agencies and the police should investigate and manage the report of recruitment of thugs and stockpiling of arms, to avoid an outbreak of violence in the coming elections.
“Security agencies should investigate and arrest people engaged in buying and selling of PVCs, and any form of voters inducement, to serve as a deterrent to others,” YIAGA advised.
The statement further said, “With the emerging trends, the election campaigns are becoming more competitive and fiercely contested.
“WTV LTOs reported political party supporters having clashed over issues of lecturers being partisan or supporting candidates.
“Other physical and verbal violence was reported from Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Nembe and Sagbama in Bayelsa State; and also in Kabba/Bunu in Kogi State.”
Continuing, the ED said, “WTV reports highlight possible threat to the peaceful conduct of the election, with the observation of the presence of small arms and weapons in some local government areas.
“WTV findings reveal that buying and selling of Permanent Voter Cards still exists.”
The team, Itodo said, also recognised the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission in election administration and therefore monitored the commission’s activities in the past two weeks.
He said, “Findings from this monitoring reveals reasonable compliance of INEC with the election timetables as indicated in the conduct of preparatory activities such as recruitment and training of ad hoc staff, stakeholder engagements and voter education, among others, in preparations for the November 16 elections in both Bayelsa and Kogi states.
“These activities were observed in all the LGAs of Bayelsa and Kogi states, except for Ijumu LGA in Kogi State.”