CSOs task INEC on availability of PVCs by October as election campaigns kick-off
•Warn electorates, party supporters against vote buying, violence •Urge security agencies to apprehend unauthorized private security organizations
A Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in support of a credible and transparent election process in Nigeria on Friday urged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the distribution of Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) to all the eligible electorates who participated in last quarter’s of the Continuous Voter’s Registration (CVR) by October and November 2022.
The CSOs’ leaders under the aegis of Situation Room gave the charge in Abuja, during a press briefing to herald the political campaigns ahead of the 2023 general elections, and also underscored the need for the Commission to display copies of the Voter’s list for claims and objectives on time, bearing in mind that the CVR exercise was concluded in July 2022.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Convener, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, Ms Ene Obi also tasked all the political actors and stakeholders to play by the rules and respect the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.
While stressing that the Electoral Act, 2022 has provided a legal framework and model to which electoral activities should be conducted, Ms Obi tasked all “political parties and candidates to respect and uphold the provisions of Section 92 (1-6) and Section 93 of the Electoral Act 2022 bearing in mind the need for peaceful elections even as the contest for elective positions becomes more pronounced with the kickoff of these campaigns.
“Political parties must refrain from equipping and employing persons to ferment violence with the intent to discredit another candidate or party. The use of abusive language or campaign materials that could cause religious or ethnic unrest must be avoided.
“Political campaigns should concentrate on issues aimed at providing solutions to the myriads of issues facing the country with practical roadmaps to actualizing them. Political parties and politicians occupying positions of power at the State level should allow free and unfettered access to public facilities and venues for all campaigns irrespective of the political party.
“It is important to note that the Electoral Act has clearly stated penalties in Sections 92 and 93 of the Act for political parties and candidates who contravene the rules of conduct at political campaigns.”
In the overview of the political landscape vis-a-vis the activities of party supporters on social media, Ms Obi urged all the “party supporters to desist from cyberbullying and other forms of online intimidation. It is expected that there will be varying views, opinions and preferences. To this end, it is important to tread with caution and respect these differences.
“Situation Room calls on Nigerian citizens to align themselves with political parties or candidates of their choice based on their strong conviction of the party ideology and proven capacity of the candidate to deliver on their campaign promises. Citizens should also look out for issue-based campaigns with feasible proposals on how to solve key issues plaguing the country. These issues range from security to education, economy and social welfare.
“Do not sell your vote for today’s comfort. Say not to vote to trade and encourage other eligible voters to stand firm for what is right. Also, do not allow yourself to be used to cause unrest.
“Situation Room urges citizens who took part in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) last year to endeavour to go to the INEC office at the Local Government Area where their polling unit is located to collect their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC). Your PVC is your voice in the 2023 elections.”
In the bid to ensure hitch-free exercise, the CSOs acknowledged that all the Security agencies including Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have an active role to play in political party campaigns.
Ms Ene said: “It is the duty of these agencies to provide adequate security for the proper and peaceful conduct of rallies. With the Nigeria Police as the lead security agency in Nigeria’s electoral system, the need for the Nigeria Police to remain neutral in their provision of security during the election campaign period is of utmost importance. Equal service should be provided to all political actors irrespective of the size of their political parties.
“On this note, Situation Room calls on the Commissioner of Police in each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory to provide security in their respective jurisdictions and avoid the use of brute force unless required. In such cases, actions must be in line with the Police Act, Public Order Act or any other related regulation.
“The Police should also watch out for and apprehend any security outfit or armed private security organizations not authorized by Section 91(2) of the Electoral Act 2022.”
She also stressed the need for the mainstream media in both public and private sectors which are saddled with the responsibility of creating and promoting political awareness amongst people in order to achieve a democratic society, to “use their platform to stimulate conversations on issue-based campaigns. Radio stations, television stations and print media should be conscious about broadcasting or publishing content that could incite violence.
“Section 95 (1-5) of the Electoral Act 2022, stipulates acceptable standards and practices for the media during an election campaign.
“Situation Room, therefore, calls for unbiased reportage and equal media coverage for political parties and candidates,” she stressed.
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