As political parties move to begin campaigns for the 2023 poll on Wednesday (tomorrow), key stakeholders in the Nigerian project have given a stern warning to political parties to avoid violence during the exercise.
the Independent National Electoral Commission; the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III have given a stern warning to political parties to avoid violence during the exercise.
The development came amid rising insecurity in the country as politicians also step up efforts to protect themselves with the demand for bulletproof cars and security gadgets rising in recent months.
The Chairman of INEC, Mahmud Yakubu, pointed out that abusive and slanderous words could provoke violence during the campaigns.
Yakubu, who was represented by a National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, spoke at a workshop in Lagos on Monday.
‘Abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns. Let me also remind the media of their constitutional and legal obligations,’ he said.
The INEC chairman further reiterated this position during a sensitisation forum on political broadcasting in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Towards a fair and responsible broadcast coverage of the 2023 general elections.’
He warned that the commission would do everything possible to ensure that the 2023 general election was free, fair, credible, transparent, inclusive, and verifiable.
He said, ‘Candidates and their supporters, as well as the media have a responsibility to operate within the confines of the law and the provisions of the commission’s regulations and guidelines. Issue-based campaigns are essential for safe electioneering. In turn, this will create the atmosphere for the successful deployment and conduct of all electoral activities.
‘Campaigns should be devoid of hate speech, abusive or slanderous language, insinuations or innuendos likely to provoke a violent reaction, physical attacks on supporters of one party or another or the destruction of campaign materials.
‘More specifically, section 95 of the Electoral Act defines the responsibilities of political parties and candidates, the media and public institutions. It also provides sanctions for violations.
‘For instance, in the course of our numerous interactions with political parties over the years, many of them have complained about the denial of access to public facilities for their meetings or rallies, exorbitant charges for signage and billboards and equal access to the state media.’
Similarly, the Sultan, who is also the leader of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Mohammed Abubakar, and the CAN president, Rev. Daniel Okoh, called on Nigerians to work together for peace and justice ahead of the 2023 general elections.
They made the call on Monday during the 2022 third quarter meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religion Council, held on Victoria Island, Lagos.
The event themed, ‘Working together for justice and peace,’ was also attended by the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and leaders of NIREC.
Abubakar said, The role of religious leaders is to be just and fair to earn the trust of the people and I urge Muslims and Christians in the country to come together to pursue peace and justice because we are inseparable.”
Okoh said, ‘As we prepare for another significant milestone in our country, the 2023 general elections, it is important that we guard our actions and utterances as leaders. We must not be seen as people who are fanning embers of hate, disunity, encouraging political violence, or attempting to divide the populace along tribal or religious lines.’
Mustapha, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Dr Maurice Mbaeri, urged religious leaders to create the needed change so that Nigerians can always live in unity and harmony.
“I want to charge every one of us to work for peace that will endure and outlast us by creating functional structures for generations unborn. This structure must have the capacity to be proactive in responding to emerging issues while reinforcing longer and larger change processes. We cannot fold our hands when we see problems emerging,” he said.
Speaking at the Abuja event, the Director-General of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah, told operators of the broadcast industry to ensure that reportages are made within the ambit of the law.