The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria Matthias Schmale has warned that election violence often started with divisive statements and hate speech, and therefore, urged all candidates and their supporters in the forth-coming general elections to eschew violence, promote peace and be issue-based in their campaigns.
He said: “Electoral violence undermines inclusive electoral processes, especially with regard to rule of law and human rights including women’s participation.”
Schmale made the statement at the weekend during a high-level consultations with key stakeholders and signing of Enugu State Peace Accord ahead of the 2023 General Elections, organised by the National Peace Committee, The Kukah Centre, the United Nations, and the Enugu State Peace Committee.
He emphasized that it was important to include and maximize the presence of religious and traditional leaders as well as active civil society organisations, including women and youth groups in Enugu State, who could disseminate messages promoting peaceful elections all the way down to the state’s 17 local government areas.
The Resident Coordinator acknowledged that: “We know that peaceful elections in Nigeria start with peaceful elections in Local Government Areas and the States. Enugu must claim its status as one of the prominent states in the nation where peace reigns and where political differences and intolerance are managed through non-violent means.”
He warned that the reputation of Enugu would be at stake if violence and insecurity were to take hold in the state before, during, or after the elections.
“Members of the Enugu State Peace Architecture and other stakeholders are already engaged in promoting social cohesion and enhancing the role of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.” He added, “I would like to pledge the continued support of the UN for these efforts.“
Representing the National Peace Committee, Emmanuel Nkanka, read out the draft Peace Accord which was also projected on the screen for all participants to see, and urged all candidates and political parties to live by the letters and spirit of the peace accord they signed.
At the event were the Chairman of Enugu State Peace and Development Outreach, HRH Igwe John Azubuike Ibe, Mr. Emmanuel Nkanta, project manager, National Peace Committee, representing the Head of Secretariat, Rev. Fr Atta Barkindo and the Chairman, Abdulsalam Abubakar.
The Enugu State Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmed Ammani, assured that the police, in active collaboration with other security agencies, would continue to work very hard to maintain security before, during and after the elections.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu, confirmed that his office had received assurances from the security agencies in Enugu State that INEC facilities and personnel would be fully secured before, during and after the elections.
Speaking on voting procedures, he said that “No PVC, No accreditation, and without accreditation, No voting.”
Michael Olugbode in Abuja