INEC Urges Political Parties to Curb Pre-Election Violence in Upcoming Governorship Elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed serious concern over the escalating cases of pre-election violence by political parties ahead of the November 11 governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, addressed political parties during the commission’s election quarterly review meeting in Abuja, urging them to take action and call their supporters to order.
During the meeting, Prof. Yakubu highlighted the lessons learned from the general elections and the areas where improvements need to be made, such as election technology, staff recruitment and training, security issues, logistics, and collaboration with service providers. He also raised concerns about the use of thugs during elections, leading to harassment of election officials, voter intimidation, and destruction of election materials.
Campaigning for the three states commenced on July 14, 2023, but reports of clashes between opposing parties have already surfaced, with each side claiming innocence. INEC urged party leaders to exercise control over their supporters and avoid engaging in violence.
The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) also had its say during the meeting, advising the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) to base its judgment on a well-reasoned interpretation of the law and not be influenced by emotions or technicalities. IPAC recalled their previous support to INEC during the collation of results for the presidential election and commended those parties who approached the court for redress. They stressed the need for fairness, equity, and justice in the decision-making process.
As Nigeria prepares for the off-season elections in November, IPAC called for collective efforts to prevent undue pressure on resident electoral commissioners and returning officers by some governors and INEC itself to manipulate election results. They cited the Adamawa State 2023 governorship election result declaration saga as a cautionary example and praised INEC’s prosecution of the Adamawa REC in court.
Furthermore, IPAC emphasized the need to address other factors that affected the conduct of the 2023 election, such as ethnic profiling, religious sentiments, voter suppression, ballot snatching, and hate speech. They called for all key stakeholders to work together harmoniously to improve the electoral process, especially with the INEC 2023 elections review report now available.
Overall, the focus is on promoting peaceful elections and enhancing democratic practices for the upcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states.