By Chinedu Adonu
ENUGU—INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission, INEC, has condemned the spate of violence against women during elections, saying if not controlled, it would discourage women participation in the electoral process.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, in Enugu State, Dr Emeka Ononamadu, speaking during a one-day seminar on Mitigating Violence Against Women in Elections held at TopRank Hotel, Enugu yesterday, attributed poor participation of women in electoral process to the high level of insecurity during elections.
“Free, fair and credible election cannot be achieved in a society where there is violence, particularly against women, hence the need to protect women and embrace peaceful co-existence among us.”
Ononamadu thereby charged women to come out en-masse to participate in the forthcoming election, urging them to shun fear.
“We should not allow anybody to intimidate us with threat of violence because we own the state and the country.
“Election is always associated with tension but you should not sit at home because your vote is the best and biggest weapon for sustainance of our nascent democracy, “he said.
He called on all authorities concerned to protect the right of women during election saying “a society that protects women is a society that is ready to survive and develop”.
Ononamadu, urged politicians to stop hiring youths for political thuggery, stating that any crisis caused before, during and after election affects the women either directly or otherwise.
Presenting the objectives of the seminar, the Gender desk officer, Mrs Edna Nnolum stated that violence against women in election is not unique to Nigeria or Africa but a global phenomenon militating against women’s enhanced political participation.
Mrs Nnolum said violence against women undermines a vital requirement of electoral democracy which is equality and equity in participation for all eligible segments of the society.
“As 2019 General elections draws closer , it is important that measures are taken by all concerned to ensure that women rights of free and fair participation in the electoral process is protected, secured and preserved,” she said.
In his remarks, the Head of Voters Education and Publicity, INEC, Enugu, Mr Abuon Edor, enjoined menfolk to support their wives to participate in electoral process noting that, “Our women must be supported and not be violated or abused and beaten during election but should be treated as special entity.
“In the past, women hardly participate during election but things are changing as more women now participate but we want more women and we must make sure they are protected as they come out to exercise their franchise”, Edor said.
In a goodwill message, the resource person of National Orientation Agency, NOA, Tochi Amauchechukwu described electoral violence as a greatest obstacle to development of a nation.
She lamented over the way and manner some women suffers sexual abuse and other forms of intimidation during election calling on men and all authority concern to ensure that women and girls are protected during election.