From Esther Akaa, Lafia
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on free and peaceful election in Nasarawa State has called on security agencies to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of electoral offences during and after the 2023 general elections for peace and progress in the state.
The coalition made the call on Tuesday at a one-day interactive session on free and peaceful election in the state, held on Tuesday in Lafia.
Speaking at the meeting, the Executive Director, Centre for Women Youth and Community Action (NACWYCA), Dr Nawani Aboki, and convener of the meeting, said the call became necessary due to the fact that perpetrators of election violence in the country are often left unpunished.
Aboki noted that the arrest and prosecution of offenders before, during and after elections would serve as deterrent to others, who may want to do same.
He explained that the outcome of political party primaries, particularly in Nasarawa West, with the arrest of some thugs necessitated the call for prosecution of the culprits to serve as deterrent ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Aboki said that for elections to be free and fair, all those responsible for election processes must be properly informed on their role to ensure that they do the right things for a peaceful free and fair elections in the state.
“We are already seeing some dangerous signs and felt the need to meet and lend our voice on the need to have a very peaceful election in the state.
“The coalition is non partisan, so we are taking the advocacy to all political parties and other stakeholders to talk to their people on the need to eschew violence and to have a peaceful election in the state.
“The coalition is committed to ensuring an acceptable and peaceful election in Nasarawa State,” Aboki said.
Aboki called on the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to intensify its monitoring of abuse of drugs and alcohol during campaign and elections, even as he called on all voters to come out enmasse to participate in the 2023 elections.
He, commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its commitment to ensuring a peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections and urged them to do more.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Agama Centre for Peace and Development, Ibrahim Samaila called on political parties to always ensure internal democracy, in order to reduce pre-election violence.
“Every political party should ensure that they imbibe a culture of free and fair primary elections because all what we are facing today in Nasarawa State is as a result of the primary elections some political parties conducted that brought about grievances among those who contested.
“The Judiciary should also ensure that whoever wins election based on the evidence provided to them in court, should be declared the winner. They should not deny any candidate justice because of personal interest,” Samaila said.
He, noted that the state was known to be peaceful and therefore, called on the citizens of the state to continue to promote peace in whatever they do for the progress of the state.
On his part, Mr Gabriel Gwabo, Executive Director, Justice and Human Empowerment Centre, blamed election violence on desperate politicians who are bent on winning at all cost.
Gwabo stressed the need for CSOs and other stakeholders to sensitise the people not to allow themselves to be used for any form of election violence.
He, called on the youths to support the candidates of their choice without engaging in violence and destruction of lives and property.
On his part, Executive Director, Centre for Citizen’s Rights, Abdullazeez Bako, charged politicians to abide and play by the rules of the game.
Bako also called on CSOs to draw up a citizen charter for political party candidates to sign unto, in order to hold them accountable in the event of election violence in their areas.
He, called for the sensitisation of the people to ensure a violent free election.
The Voice reports that the coalition is an umbrella body of CSOs and media organisations working to promote free and peaceful election across the 13 local government areas of the state.