By Sharon Nwaneri
A civil society organisation, Better Community Life Initiative, BECOLIN, based in Imo has identified twenty local government areas as flash points of political and electoral violence.
It made the revelation through its program director, Mr. Chibundu Uchegbu when he addressed journalists on Pre-election environment assessment (PEEA) Thursday at the Mbari premises of the All workers Micro Finance Bank.
The local governments identified are Ahiazu Mbaise, Ideato North, Ihitte Uboma, Ikeduru, Mbaitoli, Nwangele, Ohaji/Egbema, Onuimo, Orsu, Owerri North LGAs. Others are Isiala Mbano, Ngor Okpala, Orlu, Aboh Mbaise, Okigwe, Nkwerre, Obowo, Oru East, Oru West, Ideato South
Going further he indicated five local governments where properties of opponents were destroyed to include Ideato North, Ikeduru, Mbaitoli, Ideato South and Okigwe.
The survey also identified three local government with government restrictions where candidates were not allowd to campaign freely. They are Ikeduru, Isiala Mbano, and Ideato South.
Five local government identified to be arming thugs are Ikeduru, Oru West, Ngor Okpala, Okigwe, Isu.
Some of the council areas stated to be prone to vote buying are Ahiazu Mbaise, Ideato North, Ikeduru, Onuimo, Oru East, Oru West, Owerri North.
Disaggregating the data on constant electoral violence include the perpetrators, the targets and nature of violence. It was revealed that the candidates, INEC assets and the security agencies formed the targets of the violence while the nature of violence is located in shooting, assassination and adoption of people.
Uchegbu however noted some of the peculiarities of the 2023 election which distinguished it from the ones before. He stated that the election is being conducted with a new legal frame work-the New Electoral Act, has enjoyed the massive interest of youths, and is holding amidst general insecurity.
He also observed that the 18 parties in the contest fielded their presidential candidate and that for the first time results would be transmitted electronically.
Earlier in his presentation, the program director, informed that the report is the outcome of an in-depth and wholistic assessment of the political and electoral landscape ranging from change in landscape dynamics, preparation of stakeholders, factors that give rise to electoral violence and on the hand probable factors that can also account for peaceful elections.
He indicated that the election environment assessment is predicted on the commitment of the group’s partners, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), and Kimpact Development Initiative, aimed at establishing early warning systems that can identify factors which portend great risk in the conduct of peaceful polls.
The methodology adopted according to him was in the deployment of two monitors in each local government to generate verifiable reports of occurrences both electoral and non electoral within their jurisdiction. The reports were delivered on weekly basis.
In one of the reports it was revealed that 94% of monitors confirmed that there was civic education of voters and that 85% of the message focused on vote buying and peaceful conduct.