By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
In the final run-up to the governorship and house of assembly elections set for March 18, Kimpact Development Initiative, KDI, has called for improved security in Lagos, Rivers, and Imo among other states prone to election violence.
The Executive Director of KDI, Bukola Idowu, made the call during a pre-election briefing in Abuja on Friday, stating that increased presence of security agents would stem the possible uprisings during the elections.
Idowu said the call became necessary, following indications from findings placing some states at high risk of possible violence on Saturday, March 18 elections.
28 out of 36 States would be deciding, with their votes, who takes the mantle of leadership for their various states for the next four years. KDI in its active participation throughout the general elections has deployed long- and short-term observers nationwide.
According to Idowu, findings from KDI with respect to its Election Violence Mitigation and Monitoring (EVMM) of the Nigeria Election Violence Education and Resolution (NEVER) project, revealed that “there had been 482 cases of electoral violence in Nigeria, leading to over 160 deaths between January 1, 2022, to March 17, 2023. Of the 482 electoral violence cases, the month of February 2023 experienced 131 cases of violence, with 89 of them being presidential election-day violence.”
He said, “Notably, as we move close to the governorship and States House of Assembly Elections, we increasingly get reports of incitements and political party group attacks in Lagos, Kano and Rivers States. Kaduna and Taraba states had the highest number of incidents related to government restrictions, and Delta, Imo, Osun, and Taraba states experienced more property destruction.
“While we know that stakeholders are spreading peace messaging around the states, we strongly suggest that on the 18 March election that special attention should be given to Lagos, Imo, Delta, Rivers, Oyo, Cross River, Ebonyi, and Ogun in the south while Kwara, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna, Kano and Bauchi are states that our analysis has been marked as areas at the risk of violence in the elections.
“Our comparative analysis based on the data collected from our long-term observation showed some nexus between the presence of Security Forces and election violence. Data revealed that electoral violence is reduced when there is more presence of security forces. We have indeed shared our pre-election environment assessment, the hotspot areas, and the states at risk of strategic electoral violence with the security agencies. We urge them to use all of this information for their deployment because this will help formations.
“KDI, at this moment, requests and passionately pleads with all stakeholders: INEC, political parties, candidates, youth leaders, security officers, and political Stalwarts to please play by the rule and ensure a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections.”
He commended Nigerians for their commitment to participating in the voting process while urging them to do same on Saturday.
Furthermore, Idowu urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to sensitise its ad-hoc staff on neutrality and ensure that all logistical and ICT challenges of the presidential election are taken care of, to ensure free, fair, and credible polls.