The Network for Democracy and Development, NDD, a Muslim civil society organisation, through its Election Situation Room, a collaborative platform of major Islamic organisations on election matters, has appealed to all Nigerians to make this election cycle a peaceful and memorable one.
Election is a civic obligation that all citizens of voting age must embrace. It is aimed at ensuring and guaranteeing citizens’ participation in the process of governance. Elections should draw citizens to governance and not scare them away from it. Thus, we all have a duty to prevent anything that may deny Nigerian citizens the exercise of this basic right.
The group appealed to INEC, the electoral umpire, political parties, candidates, security agencies and other critical stakeholders to do all within their constitutional powers to make the elections free, fair, peaceful, violence-free and credible, adding that the elections must be conducted within the law.
“We also appeal to the international community and international election observers to remain impartial, respect the nation’s sovereignty and play their roles within global best practices.
“International observers should divest themselves of any particular mindset or extraneous considerations but be strictly guided by the fundamental principle of objectivity, neutrality and independent assessment of events.
“They are expected to observe the electoral process in totality and in a comprehensive manner in order to be able to arrive at a credible judgment and an objective reporting.
“In the same vein, we call on the media to act as unbiased and patriotic witnesses to the events around the elections and report events accurately and conscientiously. The media must serve as purveyor of truth and realise the enormity of its influence on the society. In this era of social media characterised by unrestrained eye-witness reportage, we must all eschew the criminal act of spreading fake news.
“We particularly enjoin the Judiciary, as the last arbiters in election matters, to give Nigerians the hope of an amicable, peaceful, just and fair resolution of post-election issues. Indeed, Nigerians look forward to distinguished members of the bar and the bench to act in ways that would steer the nation on the path to greater peace and progress.
“The courts and other stakeholders in the administration of justice must exhibit high level of professional integrity and effectiveness in handling post-election disputes by applying the laws in an appropriate manner devoid of abuse, command public confidence and conform to international best legal practices. They should similarly ensure that those accused of electoral malpractice or offences should have the right to fair hearing and speedy public trial conducted in accordance with established judicial procedures.
“NDD appeals to all prospective voters not to sell their votes or their PVCs. We must also shun electoral malpractice and avoid acts that may jeopardise national peace and security. The elections are about the future of Nigeria. As such, the next few days are very crucial in the nation’s journey to greatness. After two decades of uninterrupted democratic experience, Nigerians must do better this time than they did in previous elections.