YIAGA Africa, an election monitoring group, has raised the alarm that some politicians had stockpiled arms with the aim of causing violence in Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State.
The organisation revealed this in its pre-election observation findings on Thursday in Akure, Ondo State.
Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, said the group was concerned with the seeming failure of security agencies to curb acts of lawlessness and impunity being perpetrated by armed political thugs ahead of the election.
He said, “Yiaga Africa’s pre-election observation findings revealed a consistent trend of violence and arms stockpiling across some local governments in the state.
“Notable LGAs where violence and arms gathering incidents were observed include Akoko South West, Akure South, Akure North, Akoko South East, Akoko North West, Irele, Ese Odo, Okitipupa, Ilaje and Owo.
“Yiaga Africa considers these LGAs as potential hotspots for violence in this Saturday election.
“The organisation is further concerned that election day violence may occur in these locations if the security threats are not neutralised.”
Itodo explained that the group was also concerned that Saturday’s governorship poll may witness low turnout of voters due to pre-election violence in the state.
According to him, this may also create chances for electoral manipulation especially in strongholds of major political parties in rural areas of the state.
Itodo asked security agencies to ensure the protection of voters, observer groups, media and vulnerable voters especially women and persons with disabilities.
He added, “Given the pervasive threat to safety and security in the Ondo election, Yiaga Africa urges the federal and state governments to desist from partisan use of the police and security forces to manipulate the electoral process.
“And in ensuring adequate security for the election, security agencies should manage their operation with the utmost levels of neutrality and professionalism.
“Respect for the law and citizen’s constitutional and civic rights should be maintained without excessive use of force.”
The Yiaga Executive Director called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure the early payment of stipend and allowances of the ad-hoc staff deployed for the election.