Give electoral laws more teeth, Ebonyi election stakeholders urge FG

Executive Director DIG Chima Ajah Oliver, presenting Election without tension sticker to REC INEC Ebonyi state Prof. Godswill Obioma

ELECTION stakeholders in Ebonyi State have observed that Nigeria electoral laws are weak and need to be strengthened by the Federal Government to be able to address emerging challenges in the country’s electoral processes and system.

The observation was part of a 10 point communique reached at the end of a one-day stakeholder’s pre-election dialogue and workshop on vote buying/selling, hate speech and fake news mitigation.

The dialogue session under the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room was organised by Development and Integrity Intervention Goal Foundation (DIG), a non-governmental organisation, in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ebonyi State and the Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Centre.

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Participation noted that the issue of Vote buying and hate speeches constituted the major causes of tension and national insecurity which impede free and fair elections in Nigeria.

They further observed that vote buying and selling as well as other forms of inducement of voters pose a major threat to economic and political development of the country and called on INEC to collaborate with the Security Agencies and other critical stakeholders to end such acts in the country’s electoral environmental.

Speaking at the event, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State, Professor Goodwill Obioma explained that INEC has tremendously improved in its processes and technology for the 2019 elections to make it much more functional.

According to him, accreditation of voters and voting are to run simultaneously unlike the 2015 elections while there has been an enhancement in the energy capacity and optical performance of the Card readers.

He added that the creation of a personnel group known as Registration Centre Technicians (RACTECH) in each of the wards across the State would further enhance quick response to issues pertaining to the performance of the Smart Card Readers.

Obioma who decried the low rate of Permanent Voter Cards collection in the State called on the participants and other stakeholders such as the National Orientation Agency to intensify sensitization at the grassroots.

He noted that the INEC in the State has devolved collections centres to polling units and other special centres like the markets, Mechanic villages and other named public places in order to make collection more convenient to voters.

The State Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Mustapha, on behalf of other security agencies in the State assured of adequate security before, during and after the elections, calling on all and sundries to collaborate with them by volunteering prompt and correct information to them.

The director of DIG Foundation, Oliver Ajah explained that the objectives of the workshop were to facilitate Civil Society engagements in Electoral observation and review of the election process in Ebonyi State as well as advocate for stakeholders support for peaceful, credible and transparent 2019 elections., among others.

Resource persons at the event were drawn from the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the National Orientation Agency and the Legal Unit of Ebonyi State INEC.

Other participants included the representatives of political parties, Civil Society Organisations, the Military represented by the Cantonment commander, Nkwoagu Military Cantonment, Lt.Col S. O Sadiq; the Traditional rulers led by the State Chairman of the council, Ezeogo Charles Mkpuma.

Others were the State Coordinator of the National Youth Service Corp, Mrs Ann Ibe; the zonal head, Legal Unit of ICPC, Mr. Enosa Omoghibo as well as representatives of different media organizations.

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