Nigerian Group Calls for a Stop to Electoral Violence

By Longtong Ibrahim

Nigerian Government has been tasked to address its high employment burden through provision of functional vocational skills to address incessant youth restiveness in the country.

This is in addition to ensuring safety of lives and property of its citizens in the forthcoming general election.

The call was made at the end of a dialogue in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria by four civil society organizations that analyzed potential threats to 2015 election.

The dialogue has its theme as ‘securing our Democracy: stop the Violence.

Spokesperson of the Group, Comfort Fearon identified bad governance and human insecurity as key factors to most violence in the country, pointing out unstable and unpredictable social economic environment as a factor which leads to youth restiveness.

She said violence destroys the social fabric that holds communities and its aftermath results in fear, mistrust and hostility.

The Group believes that underfunding of the security and law enforcement agencies has limited the capacity of Nigerian agencies to deliver on their mandate of public security.

Fearon further said irregularities in the distribution of Permanent Voters card (PVC) to registered voters; sales and theft of PVCs; hate speeches of political and religious leaders; attacks on candidates and supporters during political campaigns and adverts; voters’ intimidation, are risk factors to a peaceful election.

“The ineffectiveness of the judicial system resulted in delayed and protracted prosecution, thereby giving little or no punishment to those convicted of electoral offences.”

“There is lack of understanding at the community level on the new electoral processes especially the card reader.”

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The group called on Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to sensitize communities on negative impact of violence and ensure the effective implementation of Electoral Offences Act, and on how the card reader works.

They also urge religious leaders and security agencies to be non-partisan while other stakeholders should monitor and document compliance of INEC to electoral Act and provide information to security agencies that would aid in intelligence gathering.

In its recommendations, the group called on politicians and other stakeholders not to embark on aggressive campaigns but peaceful rallies that would improve community cohesion.

The Group, under the aegis of ‘Women Preventing Violence Network in Kaduna’, drew its membership from Abantu for Development; Women Interfaith Council; Interfaith Mediation Center; and Gender Awareness Trust.

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