Report blames military’s involvement in nation’s elections on government’s failure

A Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) report on the 2019 general elections released yesterday has blamed involvement of security services in the electoral process on government’s failure.

It also blamed the development on failure of the nation’s security apparatuses to adequately secure the polity.

The report, titled: Involvement of Nigerian Security Services in the Electoral Process: Guardian or Threat to Democracy, suggested that the alternative to using security agencies is for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to carefully plan the movement of materials with the Police.

It added that information on the commission’s posting of permanent and ad-hoc staff should covertly be released to those involved a couple of days before elections to enable them to prepare and reach their areas of assignment a day earlier.

Presenting the repot to stakeholders in Abuja, Programme Manager of CISLAC, Sansudeen Hashim, observed that the growing threat to peaceful elections has been the official reason why governments involve the military and other security agencies in the electoral process.

He, however, cautioned that in spite of the benefits, the cumulative risks of the practice portended a huge threat to Nigeria’s democracy.

Hashim argued that legal opposition to the use of security agencies other than the Police in elections was very pronounced in a Judgment delivered at the Federal High Court Sokoto on January 29, 2015 and Court of Appeal Abuja on February 16, 2015, which rejected the use of armed personnel for polls’ supervision.

Speaking, Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, noted that volatile democracy, increasing temptation and pressure to coerce security agents, as well as desperation to hold on to power have exacerbated insecurity, which continues to frustrate efforts at achieving peaceful and secured electoral process.

Meanwhile, INEC has concluded plans to propose constitutional and statutory reforms that would strengthen the country’s electoral process.

INEC Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said voting in elections ought to be an ordinary civic responsibility of citizens.

He, however, argued that security challenges, ballot box snatching, organised mayhem, among others, largely lead to involvement of security agencies in the electoral process.