By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Yiaga Africa has described the violence that rocked that Ekiti East State bye-election, which was held on Saturday as despicable and antithetical.
While condemning the violence the election, the group in a statement on Sunday, said that electoral impunity must be addressed in order to frontally curb the menace.
According to the Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, the unleashing of mayhem during the electoral process, which resulted in the death of Nigerians performing their civic duty and gunshot wounds sustained by an NYSC member and a female police officer at their duty post, was an assault on democracy and the sanctity of life.
She said “Yiaga Africa condemns in its totality this onslaught on the election in Ekiti East State bye-election and the violence that has cost us innocent lives. No citizen deserves to die in the course of exercising their civic right and performing their civic responsibility.
“The desperation of political actors to capture power, by all means, remains a threat to our electoral democracy. It is embarrassing to watch our political class violate the electoral laws with impunity and utmost disregard for the sanctity of life and good practice. No democracy can thrive if politicians circumvent the rule of law, deploy violence and other rigging tactics to win elections at all costs.”
Meanwhile, the group has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on its decision to suspend the process indefinitely, as it stressed that credible elections cannot be conducted under a chaotic atmosphere.
Similarly, Yiaga Africa urged the commission and the Police to investigate the electoral violence and as well prosecute everyone found guilty.
“The prosecution must include both the sponsors of the violence and the individuals deployed to cause the violence. Nigeria’s democracy can no longer be driven by renegades pretending to be political leaders/politicians. The immediate prosecution of these offenders will deter future actors and reduce this culture of impunity.
“The Nigerian Police and other Security agencies must live up to their responsibility of protecting voters, voting materials, and electoral officials before, during, and after elections. Political parties and politicians should urge their supporters to shun violence and other acts capable of undermining our electoral process.
“We further urge the National Assembly to hasten the electoral amendment process to enable the timely and diligent prosecution of electoral offenders, as well as systemic challenges plaguing our electoral process, are addressed.