Civil society organisations canvass free, fair elections

Insist Osun rerun faulty

A coalition of civil society organisations on Monday urged stakeholders including Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and voters to ensure free, fair and credible general elections in February and March this year.

Led by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the 11 organisations at a press conference in Abuja said “the electoral processes at the federal and sub-national levels need to be free of political manipulation.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must exercise its independence and capacity to sanction breaches of the provisions of the National Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

“Our security agencies and personnel should be equipped to defend the nation and our porous borders that allow insurgent from neighbouring countries to infiltrate our country and cause mayhem.”

Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa and Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo who jointly addressed the press said everything should be done to avoid the experience of Osun State governorship election rerun.

According to them, during the Osun governorship election “and especially during the rerun, security agents prevented election monitors from performing their roles.

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“When people talk about Osun elections, civil society organisations in their report on the assessment of the Osun elections made it very clear that the rerun elections failed to meet basic standards of democratic elections because the security agencies not only suppressed voters but they prevented observers from observing the elections.

“INEC has a responsibility to ensure transparency in its management of the election and because as an unbiased umpire, it must uphold those principles.”

The activists also charged the military to desist from excessive show of force to intimidate civilians whenever it feels aggrieved.

“The laws of Nigeria have made adequate provisions for how such should be addressed and the military should not act outside of those laws.

“We call for adequate oversight activities by relevant legislative committees in the national assembly on the conduct of military agents across the country. There should be adequate transparency in the procurement of military equipment as necessary.”

In addition, the group urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reveal the findings of the Presidential Investigation Panel he established in 2017 to investigate allegations of non-compliance with human rights obligations and Rules of Engagement by Nigerian Armed Forces in local conflicts and insurgency.

“We call on the National Assembly and anti-corruption agencies to live up to the expectations and trust placed in them by Nigerians in ensuring perpetrators of corrupt practice are brought to book while guaranteeing adequate protection for the whistle-blowing effort through enabling policies implementation and transition into legislation.”

For the 2019 elections, the coalition said Nigerians must also know that the success of the 2019 election is not going to be contingent on an individual or group of individuals but on citizens themselves.

“If you go out to cast your vote, don’t leave the polling station. Stay there until the results are counted and follow the results to the collation centre.

“They need to use vigilance to protect the integrity of the election because INEC can ensure a free process but we’ve got the security agencies themselves.”