CISLAC, TI warn INEC against postponing elections

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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Transparency International (TI), have warned the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not to postpone the 2023 general elections in the country.

The Executive Director of CISLAC and Head of Transparency International Nigeria, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, stated this in a statement made available to the media in Abuja.

According to him, the election which is in 44 days will lose credibility if postponed, adding that it will also amount to waste of public funds.

He added that why the civil society and other stakeholders pushed for the electoral act was for INEC to release its calendar early and plan properly.

Rafsanjani said, “We hold the view that no matter how well intended statements like these are, they come out as a ploy to frustrate or derail the efforts that have been put in place to conduct free, fair, and transparent elections. We see statements like this as counterproductive as they encourage the waste of public funds and can promote the wish of undemocratic agents that do not want Nigerian citizens to exercise their democratic rights.

“We would like to stress that different plans have been made by state and other non-state actors in line with the calendar released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and moving the date will have financial implications.”

Speaking on the provision of security during the election, Rafsanjani said the electoral body had enough time to prepare and work with security agencies to ensure a violent free poll, adding that postponing the election on grounds of insecurity will only show the unpreparedness and incompetence of INEC.

He said security personnel and election officials should be fully equipped to deal with challenges that may affect the election process.

The CISLAC, IT Nigeria boss

further called for synergy between INEC, security agencies, political parties, political leaders, community leaders, religious leaders, while charging citizens to cooperate with security agencies by reporting suspicious activities.

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He said, “We hereby state that this should not be allowed to happen. Security personnel and election officials need to be fully equipped to always deal with challenges. This should be part of the function of the National Centre for the Coordination of Early Warning and Response Mechanism, which was signed on 10th June 2022 by the President, to address issues related to threats to human security.

“The Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICESS) needs to ensure they coordinate better to secure the lives of officials and citizens before, during and after the elections. There must be synergy between the INEC, security agencies, political parties, political leaders, community leaders, religious leaders, and other stakeholders to ensure that free, transparent, peaceful, and democratic elections are held as scheduled by INEC.

“The Country’s electoral commission had three years in which to prepare for the poll and work with stakeholders from the security outfit to address foreseeable and preventable threats to human security that are likely to take place during the election exercise. The postponement will therefore be displayed as a display of utter incompetence and inefficiency.”

He added, “There were security challenges in 2015 and 2019 yet, elections still took place. Those who seek to hold free and fair elections devoid of violence outnumber those who seek to undermine transparent free and fair elections in Nigeria, including those areas where there have been politically motivated attacks on INEC facilities and killings of innocent citizens. Hence, most citizens who want elections cannot be held hostage by a few individuals who don’t mean well for the country.”

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