The United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Tuesday warned Nigeria against violence in this year’s general elections.
While the UN cautioned that if things go wrong in Nigeria, there would be serious consequences for the peace and stability of the entire region; the ECOWAS said if violence occurs in Nigeria, no other nation in the sub-region could accommodate Nigerian refugees.
They gave the warning in Jos, Plateau State Capital, at a mediation training and interactive engagement with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and other stakeholders, drawn from the North-Central and the North-East, on non-violence 2023 elections.
Over 30 persons have been reportedly killed and many others injured in the 2023 general election-related violence in parts of the country.
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There have also been a series of attacks on offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in parts of the country, especially the South-East, many of which were linked to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), leading to the killing of several INEC staffers and security personnel.
Speaking at the session with IPAC, Sa’adatu Sha’abu, who represented the United Nations Office for West Africa and Sahel (UNOWAS), said: “If things go wrong in Nigeria, there’ll be negative consequences for the peace and stability of the entire region.”
Brown Odigie, ECOWAS Programme Officer, Mediation, charged all stakeholders on the peaceful conduct of the 2023 elections.
Odigie, represented by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abel Fatau, urged all candidates and their parties to uphold the signed peace accord and the electoral guidelines.
He stated: “This is a mediation often done in countries across the ECOWAS region. We’re doing it for Nigeria because it’s a strategic member of ECOWAS.
“Nigeria has a huge population. The election can generate conflict if not effectively managed. And when violence occurs, with the enormous population of Nigeria, it can split to other neighbouring countries. I can assure you that no member within the zone of ECOWAS has the capacity to accommodate refugees from Nigeria.”
National Secretary, IPAC, Yusuf Dantalle, said politicians often get desperate because of huge election spending.
INEC chair at Chatham House, assures of poll conduct
The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Tuesday reassured of the conduct of the 2023 elections despite the various attacks on the commission’s facilities across the nation.
He spoke at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, London, on, ‘Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Preparations and Priorities for Electoral Integrity and Inclusion’.
Yakubu said between 2019 and 2022, INEC experienced 50 attacks on its facilities mostly in the form of arson and vandalisation, during which buildings, election materials and vehicles were destroyed. “Sometimes, these attacks have even targeted staff.”
He said the commission was determined to continue its preparations for the elections despite these attacks.
We must halt threats to elections-Gbajabiamila
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Tuesday stressed the need to halt all threats to the conduct of the 2023 elections.
He spoke at the resumption of the House for plenary after its short recess.
He said, “As we approach the general elections, there has been a marked increase in incidents of insecurity and vicious attacks on political actors in parts of the country.
“We must unite to ensure this dangerous trend does not lead to circumstances that threaten the forthcoming elections.”
From Ado A. Musa (Jos), Abbas Jimoh & Balarabe Alkassim (Abuja)