The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) have raised worry about the actions of separatist organizations and unofficial security forces in the South East and South West ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The warning was given by the delegation of American-based institutes yesterday in Abuja when it delivered its second joint pre-election assessment statement.
They said while the secessionist agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) might depress voter turnout, the proliferation of informal security elements such as Amotekun in the South-West and Ebubeagu in the South-East would further increase opportunities for election violence.
According to them, the assessment conducted from December 4 to 9, 2022 was built on the first assessment mission, which visited Nigeria in July 2022.
The delegation included Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ambassador Michelle Gavin; a commissioner at the Electoral Commission of South Africa, Judge Dhaya Pillay; programmes director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Ellen Dingani; IRI director for Africa, Gregory Kearns; and NDI deputy director for Central and West Africa, Dr Sophia Moestrup.
The organizations highlighted that insecurity brought on by extremist and sectarian violence, banditry, the rise of separatist groups, and the proliferation of informal security forces was a big issue for much of the country.
“Security forces should proactively identify wards at high risk of strategic election violence and focus their resources on these areas.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should complete surveys of internally displaced persons camps in all states and provide clear guidelines on the process by which IDPs, including those not living in camps, will vote in the elections,” they stated.