CSOs task INEC, politicians on adherence to electoral law

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Kogi have called on politicians, INEC and other stakeholders to ensure peaceful conduct of the Nov. 16 governorship election through strict adherence to the electoral law.

The representatives of the CSOs made the call at a two-day workshop on ‘Conflict Transformation and Election Violence Mitigation’, organised under Electoral Empowerment for Civil Society Programme (EECSP) by Search for Common Ground (SEARCH) on Tuesday, in Lokoja.

Mrs Gift Omoniwa, the State Project Coordinator of SEARCH said that violence had the capacity to distort the legitimacy of elections.

She, however, added that when the stakeholders upheld the tenets and played the game according the rules and in strict adherence to the laws, the outcome of such an election would be acceptable by all.

She said that electoral violence could be random or organised, with the intent to intimidate, threaten, inflict physical harm, blackmail, abuse, coerce, influence or affect an electoral process.

According to her, the periodic election upon which the nation’s democratic process is hinged constitutes a major source of political conflicts in Nigeria because of the emotional attachment to elections.

“We have also seen that violence during elections has the capacity to reverse all the progress made in the economy and every facet of our national life.

“So there is the need for intervention in issues around elections by relevant stakeholders”, she said.

Also speaking, Mr Idris Miliki, Executive Director, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), said that issues of violence during elections were crucial and should be addressed squarely to give credence to such election.

Miliki said that all stakeholders should take the issue of violence seriously in view of its negative impact on elections, adding that the fact that INEC was already expressing fear of violence could generate voter apathy.

Mr Nathaniel Abaniwo, Executive Director, Rehoboth Community Advancement Initiative, said opinions had shown that people were expressing more fears than optimism over the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

Abaniwo urged all stakeholders, including security agencies, politicians, INEC, the electorate, CSOs, the media and those remotely connected with the smooth conduct of the election, to take a common stand and resolve to make the exercise successful.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop addressed issues like mapping election risks, election violence analysis, violence scenario identification and early warning response matrix as well as violence escalation and de-escalation.