An election monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, has raised the alarm over the proliferation of light arms and small weapons in Rivers State.
The group said it received troubling reports about the proliferation of light arms and small weapons in Abua-Odual, Andoni, Akuku Toru, Asari Toru, Eleme, Gokana, Khana and Tai Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Rivers State.
It said the adoption of a House of Assembly candidate for Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni State constituency has created a tense atmosphere ahead of the elections in the state.
Yiaga Africa noted this during the presentation of its third Election Manipulation Risk Index (EMRI) supported by the European Union through its Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.
The group said it would deploy 1,547 duly trained and accredited stationary and roving observers to witness the conduct of the governorship election in 28 states.
A member of the Board of Yiaga Africa, Ezenwa Nwagwu said there had been a trend in both ethnic and religious divisive conversation in some states, especially post the 25 February election.
“Yiaga Africa will be deploying the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology to observe the governorship elections in Benue, Delta and Kano states. The pre-election period has recorded relative calm since the February 25 election with no major reports of insecurity.
“In addition, Yiaga Africa received troubling reports about the proliferation of light arms and small weapons in Abua-Odual, Andoni, Akuku Toru, Asari Toru, Eleme, Gokana, Khana and Tai LGAs in Rivers State.
“A House of Assembly candidate for Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni State constituency was allegedly abducted in Rivers State; these incidents have created a tense atmosphere ahead of the elections in the state.
“There has been a trend in both ethnic and religious divisive conversation in some states, especially post the 25 February elections. Yiaga Africa also received reports about recurring incidents of clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Ucha Gbeji, Vaase and Boiko Ayti communities in Ukum LGA and Mkomon, Moon, Mbaikyor and Liev1 communities in Kwande LGA, in Benue State.”
Meanwhile, Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu said the scarcity of naira may lead to logistics challenges for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which will impact the quality of the process.
She said: “This is despite the promises made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that it would make available all the needed cash for effective logistics deployment. Yiaga Africa is worried that, if the challenges of scarcity of cash are not addressed, the Commission may experience further logistics challenges which will no doubt impact the quality of the process.”
Mbamalu also expressed concerns over possible low voter turnout on Saturday.
“Yiaga Africa is concerned that the low turnout of the presidential elections would be repeated for the gubernatorial elections. While INEC and others have continued to encourage voters to turn out for elections, citizen confidence in the Commission, poor voter education along with the lingering impacts of the Naira scarcity may impact voter turnout,” she said.
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