The Independent National Electoral Commission and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, have urged political parties and civil society organisations to propose electoral reforms for the sustenance of the nation’s democracy.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, represented by Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said this on Thursday in Abuja.
He was speaking at the media inauguration of a research conducted by CISLAC titled: “Involvement of Nigeria security services in the electoral process; guardian or threat to democracy’’.
Yakubu said that while it was the constitutional and statutory responsibility of the INEC to organise, supervise and conduct elections, other agencies, commissions and stakeholders should play important roles.
According to him, the organising, undertaking and supervising elections in Nigeria are a multi-stakeholders venture involving diverse stakeholders in a complex matrix of shared roles, powers and responsibilities.
He said: “Political parties, the executives, the legislature, the judiciary, the media, CSO groups and other organisations as well as the security agencies must play important roles in formulating proposals for the reform of the electoral processes.
“The seamless performance of these components advances the electoral process and grounds democracy within the country.’’
Yakubu urged political parties and candidates in any election to act with civility and refrain from engaging in acts that can compromise the integrity of the electoral process.
He said that political parties should also refrain from training, arming and drugging young men and women and using them as skull crackers during elections.
He, however, promised that the commission would continue to collaborate and encourage security agencies to operate in electoral process in accordance with their constitutional and statutory role.
He said: “We will set out in concrete terms the mechanisms and mechanics of requesting for the services and involvement of the services in the provision of election security.
“We will propose constitutions and statutory reforms that will strengthen the regime of the electoral process.’’
He urged stakeholders in the electoral process to imbibe the democratic spirit of shared roles and responsibilities in the delivery of credible elections in Nigeria.
Yakubu said that Nigerians deserved to have good elections and the commission will continue to work to realise the true intendment of the electoral process.
On his part, Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of CISLAC, cautioned security agencies, political parties, CSOs and electorate against unguarded statements that could result in unwary response or verbal attacks during future elections.
Rafsanjani also cautioned against deployment of the military for oppression and intimidation of voters in elections.
He said: “While these challenges are major contributory factors to insecurity in our elections, we cannot conceal the fact that elections security thrives more in the abusive deployment of security personnel to intimidate perceived oppositions.’’
He called for synergy among security agencies, CSOs and other stakeholders in formulating proposals for the reform of the countries electoral laws.