The United Kingdom has advised politicians contesting Saturday’s general elections to concede defeat or approach a law court in order to curb post-election violence.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, said this during a live appearance on Channels Television’s election programme, The 2023 Verdict, on Tuesday.
According to her, this is necessary in order to prevent post-election violence, which is likely given the lack of obvious popularity among the contesting candidates.
It will be recalled that after the April 2011 presidential election in which President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) emerged as the winner, there was deadly election-related and communal violence in northern Nigeria, which resulted in more than 800 deaths. The victims were killed in three days of rioting in 12 northern states, including 10 youth corps members whose dreams and lives were gruesomely cut short in the infernal riots.
Laing, who expressed worry over the number of pre-election violence already witnessed in the buildup to the polls noted that it could be worse if a free and fair poll is truncated.
She said, “There is a worry around insecurity and violence. In this pre-election period, the number of violence and incidents is higher than in the last election. We hope people can go out to vote peacefully on the day of the presidential and gubernatorial election.
“But most worrying is the post-election period where we have seen in the past in Nigeria, there’s been quite intense post-election violence.
“So, in order to avoid that, we’re urging the heads of the political parties to ensure that their supporters go out and vote but accept the result if they lose.
“And if they feel they want to challenge anything, it is better to do so through the judicial process to keep things calm, during what is going to be a very close election. There’s a lot at stake. So that’s I guess one of my fears and worries.”
The PUNCH reports that 18 presidential candidates will appear on the ballot for Saturday’s election. However, majority of Nigerians expect the race to be between the All Progressives Congress’s Bola Tinubu, Peoples Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar, the Labour Party’s Peter Obi and a former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who is contesting on the New Nigeria Peoples Party ticket.