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Road to 2023: Attacks on INEC offices, threat to credible election- Don

From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

 

The Director, Institute for Niger Delta Studies in the Niger Delta University, Amassoma, Bayelsa State, Prof Solomon Ebobrah has warned that the spate of insecurity and rampant attacks on the facilities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in some parts of the country is a major threat to free and fair election in 2023.

 

Prof Ebobrah, while delivering the 8th annual public lecture organized by the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa State Council on Thursday, said the security threat has affected free campaigns and the voters registration as well as ongoing distribution of Permanent Voters’ Card (PVCs), thereby hampering the principle of free and fair election.

 

The Professor of Law speaking on the theme: “Ensuring Free and Fair Elections in The Face of Security Challenges”, urged security operatives to be directed at protecting the voters and not people in government or other important personalities to guide against voter apathy during the 2023 general election.

 

“Free and fair election will require credible voters registration processes, now INEC said they have successfully completed voters registration, I don’t know whether the exercise is credible in South East, because we all know that if you go to the South East, at least some part of it, as soon as there is INEC banner, there is something like a bomb, or unknown gunmen will suddenly appear. Now I don’t know how many people are so committed to electoral processes in Nigeria that they will risk their lives to go outside and register to vote.

 

“The question is that what if those attacks of the electoral process do not actually come from unknown gunmen but orchestrated by a particular political interest. International law requires that elections in this country must be free and fair. Election must involved participation, informed participation; competition during election must be genuine

 

“The election in Nigeria, whether consciously or unconsciously, is super expensive, if you are not in a category of where there is absolutely no way where.

 

“Candidates or their parties should be able to freely campaign to have free and fair election, now how many candidates will have the audacity to campaign in certain region in this country at the moment, the security situation is such that it is almost impossible for effective campaign to take place in certain part of the country,”.

 

INEC head of voters Education in Bayelsa State, Mr Wilfred Ifogah, said the security situation in any part of the country does not stop the Commission from conducting elections.

 

He said the Commission has put the necessary modalities in place to conduct a free and fair election in 2023.

 

Chairman, Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of NUJ, Mr Tife Owolabi, said the chapel in the past seven years has been galvanising the public to brainstorm on salient national issues which are beneficial to the citizens and authorities despite harsh economic realities.

 

He said the outcome of the lecture series has impacted on the practice of journalism, politics and social relations in Bayelsa state.

 

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