Challenges of Electoral Insecurity in Nigeria: The Rivers State Experience
Okoye Gabriel. N.
Since independence, Nigeria’s conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections has remained the most daunting challenge for the country’s democratization; and the degree of violence, intimidation and fraud that generally characterized past elections in the country has seen electoral processes often met by public apathy. Herein, the statutory responsibility of the Nigeria security for maintenance of internal security and crime control, including the legal framework providing for its role in democratic elections, places it at the crux of the pursuit of electoral security. However, the experience in Nigeria is that the agencies have often largely been perceived as a political instrument for intimidating the opposition and public, and manipulating the outcome of elections in favor of its paymaster(s). Against the background of security threats posed to the conduct of the elections in Nigeria, we employ qualitative based research method to analyze the electoral policing-election security nexus in the conduct of elections in the Rivers State re-run. Studying various perceptions on the part of the security agencies in securitization before, during and after 2015 General Elections, we drew attention to lessons learned in preparation for future elections. Generally, while the experience with their election duties has not been so flattering nor praiseworthy, it did appear to domestic and foreign observers, this time, that on the whole, the security agencies performed creditably notwithstanding the hurdles politicians placed on the process. We conclude with recommendations for improving the role of the police in securing elections in Nigeria.