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A public policy research group, Nextier, has predicted that the security crisis in the South East may hinder mass participation in the forthcoming general elections.
The Eastern Updates gathered that the research was conducted by Dr. Ben Nwosu, an Associate Consultant at Nextier and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nigeria in conjunction with Dr. Ndubuisi Nwokolo, a Managing Partner and Chief Executive at Nextier and an Honorary Fellow at the School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham, UK.
It warned that the conditions for credible elections are yet to be substantially guaranteed in some parts of the country.
The report said in order to ensure more participation and legitimate elections, stakeholders must unite and find a long-term solution to insecurity in the region.
The report comes amid wanton destruction of facilities belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the region.
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It contend that the minimum requirements for ensuring free and fair elections are the security of electoral institutions, the conduct of fair elections, and the general safety of all individuals.
It used recent occurrences in the country in the past two years, as case study, saying insecurity had risen exponentially in the South East from three core sources.
The academics who conducted the research noted the sources as ongoing secessionist agitations in the South East, agrarian violence by aggressive Fulani herders, and banditry by so-called unidentified gunmen in the region.
‘Several criminal elements purporting to be separatist agitators engage in kidnapping for ransom, assassination, extorting rural communities, and other dangerous crimes. As the elections approach, these three sources of insecurity are yet to be hemmed in. A few months before the election, Fulani herdsmen invaded the quiet Eha Amufu community in Enugu State on November 13, 2022, and killed 13 persons.
‘Also, along Nike – Nsukka road, massive kidnapping has been happening, including the kidnapping of undergraduates returning to the University of Nigeria Nsukka. This occurrence has become quite common across the South East of Nigeria, and they could collectively or singularly disrupt the election in the region,’ both academic dons noted.
They submitted that the forthcoming election is charged with fear of violence despite the willingness of voters to turn out massively for the ballots, as demonstrated by the number of new registrants and active mobilisation.
Nextier also cautioned that successful disruption of the elections could alter the genuine preferences of the citizens.
Hence the stakeholders involved in security at different levels should constitute a synergy to stall violent presidential elections in Nigeria.