Stakeholders in the political space have called for the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of election violence in the country to curb the trend and promote peaceful election.

They said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the Nigeria Violence, Education and Resolution, (NEVER) Public, Presentation, of 2023 Governorship off-cycle Election in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo by Kimpact Development Initiative.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 117 paged book tagged `Advancing Credible Elections Through Election Violence Monitoring and Mitigation had over 30 recommendations on curbing election violence.

The stakeholders said that if election violence was not punished it would persist and encourage a dysfunctional electoral process.

Mr Bukola Idowu, the Executive Director, Kimpact Development (KDI) said in the course of monitoring the election in the states it was discovered that there were different dynamics in each of the states.

“We have politics of identity that fuel violence in Kogi, cultism fueled violence in Bayelsa, in Imo you have secessionist agitation and intimidation tactics that are fueled in that place.

“So what we are saying is that, this is the trend of electoral violence, which needs to be curbed in the coming election, however, our recommendation is basically.

“Perpetrators of electoral violence have been walking free and that is why they come back to do the same thing again, so we recommend that they be brought to book, prosecuted and tried.

“We are also asking for clarity of legislative framework about who arrests and who prosecutes. We have seen INEC saying police should arrest, and we have seen police say on that election day, they are under electoral officers,” he said.

Mr Obo Effanga, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bayelsa, said the report was welcomed but added that politicians should be told to reduce the level of violence they brought to election.

Effanga said violence was a crime and that individuals who had used violence without authority should be arrested prosecuted and jailed adding that it does not have to do alone with politics.

He said violence and all those that do it should be prosecuted and that it was imperative to strengthen security institutions to carry out their functions properly.

Prof. Sylvia Agu, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Imo, said there was a correlation between violence and voters turnout.

“For me, to reduce violence that leads to voter apathy is to address the issue of poverty, the country is poverty ridden, people are dying on daily basis due to hunger.

“If government can tackle the issue of poverty, I can assure you that violence will be reduced and voter apathy will also be reduced. You see people voting for their choice, election reflecting the will of the people.

“Government should ensure its presence in the 36 states of the country by building factories where people can be employed it will help to reduce poverty, reduce election violence,’’ Agu said.

The Senior Programme Manager KDI, Mr Oluwafemi Adebayo said the issue of reforms was major around prosecuting electoral offenders adding that there should be consequence for action.

“Political parties need to tidy up their internal party democracy because most of the issues are domicile around the political parties, such as lack of internal party democracy, intimidation, harassment and winning by all means,” he said.

Mr Bethrand Onuoha, the Kogi Commissioner of Police, called for a re-orientation of Nigerians on election violence.
Onuoha said that there should be a departure from the quest for materialism and the passion to serve fatherland.

He said election violence would end if the gains for political office holders were reduced so that only people who actually wanted to contribute to the progress of the nation are elected into office.

Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) is a non-governmental organisation that inspires citizen-led democratic development anchored on the principles of participation, data-driven advocacy, strong democratic institutions, gender equality and public policies.(NAN)

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