Election watchdog group Yiaga Africa has called on security agencies and stakeholders to act now to prevent an increase in politically motivated violence that threatens the 2023 election.
In a report provided to Forum Online, the group noted that the 2023 elections will undoubtedly take place amid varying degrees of insecurity.
Increasing threats of violence and attacks against Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) facilities “also became a recurring incident in the pre-election phase, exacerbating security challenges,” Yaiga Africa said.
The group cautioned that “security agencies should deploy intelligence and take precautionary measures to neutralize existing threats of sabotage to INEC offices and materials to ensure that voters can exercise their constitutional right to vote in a peaceful and secure environment; Trend, voters will be deprived of exercising their rights… Security personnel should arrest and prosecute hooligans who attacked INEC offices in states like Ogun and Osun.
“The second reporting period of Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote’s pre-election watch documented election-related violence, violence against women, unchecked abuse by state governments of imposing undue restrictions on campaigning, the purchase of permanent voter cards (PVC ) and voter induction.
“While INEC has been preparing for the elections, achieving credible elections is a shared responsibility with election stakeholders.
“The recent ‘organized and premeditated’ attack on the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) portends grave dangers to democracy in Nigeria.
“These attacks could hamper INEC’s preparations for general elections and undermine citizens’ confidence in the electoral process. Likewise, women experience different forms of violence, intimidation and harassment as a result of their participation in electoral politics. Dramatic increase in online and offline attacks against women , while little or no action was taken by the relevant authorities to reduce these cases.
Among other things, the election monitoring group said its observers had witnessed the extent to which voters were wooed by distributing money and gifts across geopolitical areas.
“During the second reporting period, 4% of observers nationally had directly observed money or gift distributions in the LGA and 9% of WTV LTOs had heard of money or gift distributions in the LGA.”