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2023: Rising violence threatens polls — Abdulsalami panel

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 2023 Rising violence threatens polls Abdulsalami panel
Abdusalam

 

 

The General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee (NPC) has expressed concern over the wave of violence in political rallies ahead of 2023 general elections.

The NPC decried the use of intemperate language, intimidation and outright violence by party supporters.

The panel called on candidates to rein in their spokesmen and supporters to make electioneering campaigns violent-free.

The NPC said the development, if not curtailed, could undermine the peace accord signed by all presidential candidates at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, on September 28.

The NPC’s concerns were contained in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja.

It was signed by Gen. Abubakar (Chairman) and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah (Convener).

It came on a day the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, accused politicians and political actors of heating the polity with their refusal to play by the rules.

In the statement, members of the NPC said they have watched with utter sadness and deep concern, the deterioration in the communication of fundamental issues among the politicians since INEC lifted the ban on political campaigns in September.

According to the NPC, the presidential candidates and their running mates met and participated in the signing of the peace accord a day after the ban was lifted.

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He added that since its successful outing preceding the 2015 presidential elections, the signing of the peace accord has become embedded in the nation’s electioneering campaigns.

But, decrying the turn of events, the statement reads: “Nigerians are genuinely concerned, troubled and disappointed by the conduct and attitude of some of the political actors in the last few weeks.

“Nigerians have been fed a menu of intemperate language, intimidation and outright violence in the field of the campaigns.

“It is evident that some of our actors have not learnt any lessons from the past. There is an increasing tone of desperation, if not incitement, among some of the contestants and members of their parties.

“Intra and inter-party wranglings persist, with occasions of violence. In desperation, some selfish political actors use these strategies to pursue their frivolous ambitions in the courts.”

Saying that over the years, the event has elevated the level of trust and confidence among ordinary Nigerians in the democratic process, the NPC also said some have even called for the institutionalisation of the process into our democratic process due to its moral significance.

It went further: “The NPC has continued to maintain its partnership with the INEC to deliver peaceful elections in our country.

“The international community has taken a very keen interest in the development and progress of our country on the path of Democracy.

“For this reason, the NPC has continued to work with and receive high-level delegations from Europe and the United States of America interested in our elections.

“Their passion, concerns and commitment to our democracy are genuine and we find this very encouraging. We should, therefore, know that the world is watching us.

“We appreciate the fact that the President and Commander in Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, in collaboration with the National Assembly have shown their commitment to ensuring successful elections.

“On our part, we, the members of the Peace Committee, are also encouraged by the progress and innovation that INEC has continued to make under the leadership of Professor Mahmood Yakubu.

“All Nigerians can testify to this development by the successes recorded in the peaceful conduct of the off-cycle elections in Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states. We are not where we want to be yet, but we are right to assume that we can do more.”

The NPC said that when all the presidential candidates and the party chairmen signed the peace accord, they were committed to infusing a sense of decency, civility and nobility into the political process.

It added that the political actors cannot pretend to be oblivious to the content of the accord they signed, adding that Nigerians expect that as men and women of honour, they were committed to keeping their word.

The NPC said: “The security agencies have continued to do their best as they monitor security developments across the country. We continue to encourage them to ensure that the right environment is created for, peaceful elections.

“During the signing of the Peace Accord, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Baba Usman called attention to the fact that the federal government does not recognize any of the many security outfits that have mushroomed across the country.

“We call on the law enforcement agencies to enforce the law with the understanding that everyone will be held accountable for their actions, no matter their status.

“We wish to call on the media to remain focused in managing information. Social media is with us and it can be a tool for good if only we decide to use it for peaceful purposes.

“Citizens must be more discreet in the kind of information that they circulate on various platforms. Individuals must take responsibility for what they read. We encourage the Youth to be more restrained and to use their numbers well to guard their future.

“We call on all the candidates to rein in their spokespersons and those who claim to represent them and their parties in the public media. All candidates will be held responsible for what is said on their behalf or of their party.

“Aggressive and abusive language only diminishes the integrity of the individuals, their candidates and their parties. Nigerians should be ready to punish instigators of violence by isolating them or their candidates.

“We call on the federal and state governments to ensure a level playing field for all parties in the course of the campaigns. Access to federal or state facilities must be open to all candidates as long as they meet their financial and other commitments to using the facilities.

“It is morally wrong to abuse the power of incumbency by subverting the efforts of those who are in opposition to the status quo. Parties and citizens do not lose their rights because they are opposed to the party in power. All citizens are above political parties.

“We call on fellow citizens to appreciate the global trends around the world and Africa and their impact on the future where resources are becoming scarce. Nigerians must appreciate the huge resources committed to elections and do everything possible to ensure its integrity.”

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