Dayo Johnson Akure
A prominent election monitoring and assessment organization, Yiaga Africa has described the violence that erupted during the Ekiti State bye-election last Saturday as “despicable and antithetical to the democratic rules of credible elections.”
According to a statement signed by the Director of Programme of the group, Cynthia Mbamalu, Yiaga Africa “The unleashing of mayhem on the process, which resulted in the death of Nigerians performing their civic duty and gunshot wounds sustained by an NYSC member and a female police officer at their duty post, was an assault on democracy and the sanctity of life.
It reads that ” Yiaga Africa condemns in its totality this onslaught on the election in Ekiti East State bye-election and the violence that has cost us innocent lives. No citizen deserves to die in the course of exercising their civic right and performing their civic responsibility.”
“The desperation of political actors to capture power, by all means, remains a threat to our electoral democracy. It is embarrassing to watch our political class violate the electoral laws with impunity and utmost disregard for the sanctity of life and good practice.”
“No democracy can thrive if politicians circumvent the rule of law, deploy violence and other rigging tactics to win elections at all costs.”
The group, however, commended the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to suspend the election indefinitely, noting that no credible election could hold in midst of violence.
“We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) decision to suspend the process indefinitely as credible elections cannot be conducted under a chaotic atmosphere,” the statement read.
Yiaga Africa, therefore, called for immediate commencement of investigation into the violence by both the commission and the Police with a view to prosecuting the culprits.
“The prosecution must include both the sponsors of the violence and the individuals deployed to cause the violence.
“Nigeria’s democracy can no longer be driven by renegades pretending to be political leaders/politicians. The immediate prosecution of these offenders will deter future actors and reduce this culture of impunity.”
“The Nigerian Police and other Security agencies must live up to their responsibility of protecting voters, voting materials, and electoral officials before, during, and after elections.
“Political parties and politicians should urge their supporters to shun violence and other acts capable of undermining our electoral process.
It added that “We further urge the National Assembly to hasten the electoral amendment process to enable the timely and diligent prosecution of electoral offenders, as well as systemic challenges plaguing our electoral process, are addressed.”