An election observer, Yiaga Africa, Sunday, condemned electoral violence that erupted during Ekiti Bye-Election held on Saturday.
The condemnation was made in a statement signed by the Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, while expressing disappointment over the mayhem unleashed during the election.
According to Yiaga Africa’s report, innocent voters were killed in the process while some sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds including a corps member of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, and a female officer of the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, sustaining injuries from bullets while on election duty.
The report described the act as an assault on democracy and the sanctity of life.
“The report of electoral violence witnessed during the Ekiti East State Bye-elections held on Saturday, 20th March 2021, is despicable and antithetical to the democratic rules of credible elections.
“The unleashing of mayhem on the 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.
“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.”
However, the report commended the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to suspend the process, “We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) decision to suspend the process indefinitely as credible elections cannot be conducted under a chaotic atmosphere.
“The commission and the Police should immediately investigate this electoral violence and prosecute everyone guilty of this violence. 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 report also charged security agencies to give voters, officials on election duty, and voting materials maximum protection on Election Day.
“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”, it concluded.