The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has expressed worry over the excessive involvement of the military in elections.
Urging relevant authorities to address the issue, Situation Room observed the alleged partisanship of security agencies during the presidential and national assembly elections.
The coalition of 70 civil society organisations gave the advice in its preliminary statement on the March 9 governorship and state house of assemblies’ at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Clement Nwankwo, convener of the Civil Society Situation Room, also urged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure effective use of the PVCs and smart card readers at all polling units for the governorship and state assemblies elections on Saturday.
“Situation Room notes the worrying trend of increased and excessive involvement of the military and security officials in elections in Nigeria,” Nwankwo said.
“These concerns have mounted following the trend noticed in the February 23 elections. So, Situation Room would like to restate the provisions of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act.
“This states that the ‘deployment of Nigerian Armed forces for elections shall be at the request of INEC and only for the purpose of distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials’.
“Situation Room calls on the Armed Forces to restrict themselves to these responsibilities as defined by INEC and the electoral law.
“Situation Room calls on the security agencies to ensure that it provides adequate security for the elections and in a manner that does not allow or encourage violence to be used as a tool for vote suppression.”
“We call on INEC to ensure effective and uncompromising use of Permanent Voter Cards and Smart Card Readers for the elections,” he added.
“Situation Room notes the recent statement by INEC regarding the use of the Smart Card Readers in the state elections.
On behalf of the Situation Room, Nwankwo also welcomed INEC’s insistence that no election would hold without the device but urged the electoral umpire to follow through with that commitment.
“We welcome INEC’s insistence that no election will hold without the Card Readers.
“However, given the many concerns raised regarding the use of card readers in the presidential and national assembly elections, the Situation Room calls on INEC to immediately release publicly the data captured by the card readers to ensure utmost transparency in the election process.
“This data should include the number of partial and full accreditation across the 36 states including the FCT.
Through that, he noted, it will show the process to be more transparent and will boost public confidence in the electoral process as well.