Prosecute perpetrators of violence during 2023 poll – NGO tells FG 

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By Emmanuel Oloniruha

Global Rights, a Non-Governmental Organisation(NGO) has appealed to   the Federal Government to ensure that individuals found guilty of electoral violence in the 2023 General Elections, are prosecuted and sanctioned.

The Executive Director, Global Rights, Mr Abiodun Baiyewu said this on Monday in Abuja, at a National Dialogue on Accountability for  Documented Atrocities Associated with the 2023 General Elections.

Baiyewu said the group unveiled a report on forensic review of  documented election atrocities in 2023, adding that there was need to build consensus on how to demand accountability and prosecution of perpetrators of the violence.

She said the report titled “In pursuit of Justice: Forensic Insights into Nigeria’s 2023 Election Atrocities” was from the Incident Centre for Election Atrocities (ICEA).

She said the ICEA platform which was aimed at monitoring and documenting atrocities associated with the elections,  was established by Global Rights and its partnership with Community of Practice against Mass Atrocities in Nigeria, ahead of the general elections.

“Since the nation’s independence, Nigeria’s election cycles have been very volatile. Apart from brief moments of solidarity among citizens on their desire for credible elections.

“The no-holds-barred contestation has made divisive rhetoric a recurring decimal.

“The weaponinsation of words and imagery to sway emotions and drive violence has increased with each electoral cycle.

“The failure to make their purveyors accountable has engendered a culture of  violence  impunity, causing an ever-widening erosion in the nation’s social cohesion,” he said.

Baiyewu expressed concerns over reoccurrence of electoral malpractices over time in the country, saying that the development could undermine the   legitimacy of election results and also diminish public confidence in the democratic system.

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The director said the primary objective of the report was to highlight the obstacles that hindered the 2023 general elections, substantiate the credibility of the available evidence, and propose a practical course of action for the future.

She said the report recommended other key areas to address electoral irregularities like reforming the electoral bodies to enhance  independence and capabilities of the electoral body.

“INEC has historically never demonstrated capacity in carrying out this role. This has created a gap as several persons who breach  provisions of the Electoral Act are not held to account, thereby denying their victims justice.

“This informs the need to divest INEC of this enormous responsibility, handing it either to law enforcement or to a newly created body specifically empowered to perform this task,” she said.

Edited by Chioma Ugboma

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja

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