The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and the United Nations on Tuesday cautioned Nigeria against using violence in the general elections this year.
While the UN warned that if things went wrong in Nigeria, there would be major repercussions for the peace and stability of the entire region, the ECOWAS asserted that no other country in the sub-region could house Nigerian refugees in the event of unrest.
At a mediation workshop and interactive engagement with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and other stakeholders, drawn from the North-Central and the North-East, on non-violent elections in 2023, they offered the warning in Jos, the capital of the Plateau State.
According to reports, violence associated with the 2023 general election has resulted in over 30 deaths and numerous injuries around the nation.
A number of attacks on INEC offices across the nation, particularly in the South-East, many of which were related to the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), have also resulted in the deaths of several INEC employees as well as security officers.
Speaking at the session with IPAC, Sa’adatu Sha’abu, who represented the United Nations Office for West Africa and Sahel (UNOWAS), said: “If things go wrong in Nigeria, there’ll be negative consequences for the peace and stability of the entire region.”
All parties are urged to ensure that the elections in 2023 are conducted peacefully by Brown Odigie, the ECOWAS Programme Officer for Mediation.
Abel Fatau, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, spoke on behalf of Odigie and asked all candidates and their parties to obey the election rules and the agreed peace agreement.
He stated: “This is a mediation often done in countries across the ECOWAS region. We’re doing it for Nigeria because it’s a strategic member of ECOWAS.
“Nigeria has a huge population. The election can generate conflict if not effectively managed. And when violence occurs, with the enormous population of Nigeria, it can split to other neighbouring countries. I can assure you that no member within the zone of ECOWAS has the capacity to accommodate refugees from Nigeria.”
Yusuf Dantalle, national secretary of the Inter-Party Advisory Council Nigeria, IPAC, claimed that because of high election costs, politicians frequently become desperate.
Meanwhile, the chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Tuesday reassured of the conduct of the 2023 elections despite the various attacks on the commission’s facilities across the nation.
He spoke at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, London, on, ‘Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Preparations and Priorities for Electoral Integrity and Inclusion’.
Yakubu claimed that between 2019 and 2022, INEC suffered 50 attacks on its premises, most of which took the form of arson and vandalism and resulted in the destruction of buildings, election supplies, and vehicles. “These attacks have on occasion even targeted staff.”
Despite these threats, he claimed, the commission remained committed to continuing its election preparations.
On Tuesday, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, emphasised the importance of putting an end to any threats to the holding of the elections in 2023.
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