By Press Unit
Ahead of the Saturday Presidential elections which heralds the commencement of the 2023 general elections across all polling units in Nigeria, over 200 Civil Society Organisations have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Security Agencies, Political candidates and their supporters to ensure peaceful, violence-free polls devoid of vote-buying and other malfeasance.
Co-convener of the group and Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, the Reverend David Ugolor while welcoming participants at a pre-election conference in Gelegele, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State called for zero tolerance to electoral violence from all political parties and their agents as well as voters even as he warned against vote-buying the politicians and their supporters.
Ugolor further called on all stakeholders in the electoral process to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that vote-trading was eradicated during the 2023 general elections.
Co-Convener of the group and President of Ijaw Youth Leaders Forum (IYLF), Mr. Joseph Gbale while addressing participants at the well-attended meeting supported by the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and Wife of the Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki noted with satisfaction, the level of preparations for the 2023 general elections thus far by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and “we are satisfied with arrangements in line with the amended Electoral Act 2022 and hoped that the logistics arrangements put in place by INEC would not be affected by the current Naira scarcity and hic-cups in the delivery chain of petroleum products”.
In a Declaration issued at the end of the meeting tagged “Gelegele Declaration on the 2023 General Elections,” at the confab, the CSOs noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has improved its system through the Bimodal Voters’ Accreditation System (BVAS), which should curb electoral malfeasance, such as vote-buying and vote-trading.
They decried the threat to the elections posed by some outlawed organisations in parts of the country who have threatened to unleash mayhem during the elections, specifically, the IPOB, Boko-Haram and ISWAP members should reconsider their stance and allow peaceful polls across the country.
They demanded zero tolerance to vote-buying by candidates for the 2023 general elections and their supporters and call on them to refrain from all acts of vote-buying or vote-trading in any form whatsoever as vote-buying is capable of undermining the credibility of the electoral process.
“We call on security agents to provide top notch security across the country to ensure that no form of violence is allowed to fester in any part of the country, particularly in flash points where insurgents have threatened to unleash mayhem.
“Again, security agents deployed for the elections should promptly arrest anyone or group of persons found sharing money at polling stations or other designated election materials sharing centres and venues.
“Security agents must be professional in the discharge of their election duties and must shun any form of inducements or act of corruption,” the Declaration reads in part.
They further urged registered voters to adequately use their PVCs in the forthcoming elections as we believe that the election would change the story of the country for better once all eligible voter are allowed to freely exercise their franchise.
Participants at the conference were drawn from Grassroots Organisations, Pro-Democracy Organisations, Human Rights Groups, Academia, Feminist Organisations, Artisanal groups, and Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs).
@views exclusive rights: Press Unit, African Network For Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, February 24, 2023.