Prosecute electoral offenders before Kogi, Bayelsa polls, CSOs urge INEC

                      Executive Director, Youth Alive Foundation (YAF), Dr. Uduak Okon

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for the prosecution of perpetrators of violence during the 2019 general election to serve as deterrent to others wishing to indulge in such act ahead of Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

The CSOs under the auspices of Nigerian Elections Violence Report (NEVR) made the call after evaluating the conduct of elections in the six South–South states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta and Rivers.

A statement issued on Monday by leader of the group and Executive Director, Youth Alive Foundation (YAF), Dr. Uduak Okon noted that Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be proactive in dealing with issues of security if it must conduct credible elections in the future.

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Okon regretted that the heavy presence of armed gangs in the south-south facilitated violence during the recently concluded elections.

“Perpetrators of violence must be prosecuted thoroughly to deter future perpetrators from carrying out acts of violence during elections.

“That the law against cultism and other gang related offences should be revitalised and perpetrator made to face the law.

“Individuals known as cultists and who support and fund armed gangs should not be given political appointments and other public positions of trust as they utilise them during elections season,” Okon said in a statement.

According to her, the behavior of partisan security forces and violence around collation centres must be resolved before the next set of polls to reduce the scope of violence during elections.

“Military and Police personnel working on election security on Election Day should be properly tagged for easy identification because ‘men in uniform’ use their ‘authority’ to assist different politicians from different political parties to intimidate perceived opponents of their ‘pay masters.

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“Pressure on INEC staff and ad-hoc officials over the collation of results must be reduced with security services committing to their safety and independence critical to the stability of the polls.

“All persons engaged as staff or ad-hoc staff of INEC and security operatives must undertake oath of neutrality in line with Section 28 of the Electoral Act and must be seen to be neutral,” she added.

She insisted that YAF and its partners with support from International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) would ensure that persons who are partisan and lie on oath must be charged to court for perjury.

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Okon was also quoted in the statement as urging INEC to resolve the issues surrounding logistics especially the late delivery of election materials to curb incidences of election malpractice.

She added: “The NEVR project aimed to increase public knowledge and awareness on the dangers of election violence, and increase participation and involvement of election stakeholders in the mitigation and prevention of election violence.”

Social Development Integrated Centre (Rivers State), Edo Civil Society Organization (Edo State), Foundation for Non-Violent Social Change (Delta State), Nembe City Development Foundation (Bayelsa State) and The Bridge Leadership Foundation (Cross River State) are the other groups that participated in the assessment. (NAN)

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