September 22, 2023

A civil society organisation, the Balm in Gilead Foundation for Sustainable Development, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to address the operational failure experienced in the presidential and National Assembly elections to avoid recurrence in future polls.

The Executive Director of BIGIF, Ms Oluwatumininu Adedeji, also urged probe of the incidents of violence reported in some areas during the Presidential and NASS elections with a view to ensuring peaceful future elections including next Saturday’s governorship and state Assemblies polls.

Adedeji, who spoke in the Post-Election Press Statement on the presidential and NASS elections made available on Thursday, said the cashless/naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria brought about low vote trading chances and as well low reported cases of violence in the presidential/NASS elections.

She said, “We urge the government to conduct a full investigation into the cases of electoral violence particularly those targeted at women at the elections and bring perpetrators to justice. We also urge the government to explore deterrence messaging in order to effectively deter perpetrators of violence in elections and to support the survivors’ recovery.

“Operational failures of the process which manifested in the non-transmission of the elections results from polling units to the INEC IReV portal as required by the Electoral Act, 2022 after vote sorting and counting had largely reduced trust and portends a huge risk to the processes” and as well “constituted a threat of violence to electoral officials particularly where there were no security agents,” she said.

Consequently, Adedeji advised that “INEC should restore confidence in the general public by commencing rejig of the electoral process and address operational failures in future elections”.

She expressed delight that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission and other relevant institutions had stepped up efforts to deal with vote trading in accordance with the Electoral Act, 2022 in line with BIGIF recommendation in 2022 after the Ekiti governorship election.

The BIGIF boss stated, “We are, however, calling on EFCC to make public the progress made with the prosecution of people arrested for vote buying in previous elections particularly during Ekiti and Osun 2022 governorship elections as this will serve as deterrence. We are calling for the full implementation of Section 22 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

“We also note with delight that the Ekiti template of the BIGIF partnership with NSCDC through the use of N-alert mobile application to respond to violence against women in politics has now become a national template as a model to combating electoral related gender-based violence and the use of N-alert application now gained more popularity as we recommended in 2022.

“The National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly should pass legislation that can further strengthen women’s participation in politics. Women should be encouraged and supported by government and political parties to increase their involvement in politics.

“Civil societies should increase their collaboration with security agencies for the purpose of creating an enabling environment for women to participate in the political process without discrimination and/or fear of intimidation,” BIGIF stated.

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