The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concern over the increasing cases of electoral violence in Nigeria.
Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said the trend portends danger for the nation’s democracy.
He blamed the level of violence on the lack of enforcement of relevant laws relating to electoral violence.
Professor Yakubu, at a forum on elections organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, announced plans by INEC to test-run some new initiatives in 2017 ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He revealed on Monday in Abuja that at least 100 staff of the commission in 17 states were being investigated for their roles in the 2015 general elections and the parliamentary re-run election in Rivers State.
A New Vigour
INEC’s Chairman further recommended an attitudinal change in order to reduce the increasing cases of electoral violence in Nigeria.
“INEC is not without their own share of blame. There were instances of electoral officials subverting the process, usually as a result of financial inducement resulting in obviously compromised processes, leading to the nullification of elections by the court.
“I wish to assure you that this will be addressed with a new vigour because such electoral officials should have no place in the management of a sacred trust called election,” he said.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari, also announced plans by the National Assembly to pass a bill on electoral offences commission.
“There are bills presently on the current legislative refining in two Houses of (the) National Assembly.
“The bills have been holistically approached and there are most of the prevailing challenges in our electoral process,” he said.
Macabre Dance Of Shame
Another speaker at the forum and Coordinator of Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Mr Udo Jude Ilo, condemned the heightened tension that characterised elections in Nigeria and Africa in general.
“We need to wake up to the reality that Nigerians are tired. I am tired and frustrated and that our continued macabre dance of shame around elections is destroying our collective psyche and faith in democratic process,” he stated.
The convener of the forum, Clement Nwankwo, also criticised the violent electoral process in the country, saying: “We do have a civil society concern regarding some of the challenges that have recently reared (their) heads and it is coming from events that took place in this recent elections and the Rivers State elections”.