Abuja, July 26, 2023 – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed deep concern over the escalating cases of pre-election violence by political parties, as the November 11 governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states draw near. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, called on political parties to take responsibility and curb the actions of their supporters to prevent further unrest.
At the commission’s quarterly review meeting with political parties in Abuja yesterday, Prof. Yakubu emphasized the importance of learning from the lessons of the previous general elections to enhance performance during the forthcoming by-elections and governorship elections.
He stated, “We are focusing, among other issues, on election technology, recruitment and training of ad hoc staff, the conduct of some of our regular and ad hoc officials, security issues, logistics, and our relationship with other service providers.”
The INEC Chairman urged party leaders to introspect and address the use of thugs during elections, which leads to the harassment of election officials, voter intimidation, and disruptions that often result in the destruction of election materials.
“Campaigns have commenced in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states, and there are already distressing reports of clashes between opposing parties,” Prof. Yakubu remarked. “I appeal to party leaders to call your supporters to order. These claims help no one.”
In response to the meeting, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) advised the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) to base its judgment on a well-reasoned interpretation of the law rather than emotions or technicalities. IPAC Chairman, Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani, urged the tribunal to prioritize fairness, equity, and justice in its decision-making process.
As Nigeria approaches the off-season elections in November, IPAC emphasized the need for all stakeholders to collaborate to ensure the independence of resident electoral commissioners and returning officers, preventing them from being influenced by certain governors or INEC itself to falsify election results.
In light of the review and findings from the INEC 2023 Elections Review Committee, stakeholders have a unique opportunity to work together and institute necessary electoral, legal, and administrative reforms to improve the democratic process for future elections.
With the current unrest and challenges in the electoral process, the government, INEC, political parties, and all relevant stakeholders are urged to work in harmony to foster transparent and credible elections in the three off-season states.