The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for prosecution of perpetrators of electoral violence in Nigeria.
Speaking at a Roundtable on Electoral Reform in Abuja, President of the NLC Comrade Ayuba Wabba said elections in Nigeria is more like theatre of war.
Comrade Wabba said the congress is canvassing for reform which includes having persons appointed into INEC truly independent and conform to the principles of independence at all levels and also, leveraging on technology to ensure credibility in elections to know who voted and who didn’t.
According to him, electoral reforms should come earlier before elections, to enable people get used to them or amendments made to the Act.
He said: “Election days and venues have been turned into theatres of war. We must create an atmosphere of free, fair and credible elections that will enable people elect their leaders without molestation or any act of violence.
“Enough of bloodshed just because of election; you find out many people are being killed and in election venues there is mayhem. We call on security agencies to provide maximum security on election days also, those offenders must not go scot free whichever party they belong to.
“People that foment trouble, kill others or cause violence or mayhem on elections day, certainly we must find space in our laws to ensure they are identified and punish to serve as deterrent.
“Having participated in the process of election from 1999 to date, we have seen that there is still a lot of room for improvement in our electoral process.
“Be it on the aspect of the law, be it on the aspect of how to choose candidates, be it in the aspect of inclusion particularly gender and youth. Those are the areas that we need critical reforms but we don’t want reforms that will come at the eve of elections.
“Having such processes at the eve of elections will not provide the necessary environment and understanding that is required for citizens to participate and for the law to become effective.
“We have gotten the commitment of the National Assembly, they say they are willing and ready to make sure that reform processes are driven much earlier. They gave commitment to the effect that by December, we should be able to be discussing the new electoral law.”
Speaking, the National Commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Okechukwu ibeanu, said electoral reforms in the country should focus on state and local elections to guarantee quality governance.
Prof Ibeanu further stressed the need “to strengthen the commission, strengthen the political parties and to make other agencies; the judiciary, police and army independent and accountable.”
The Executive Director Yiaga, Samson Itodo, called for reduction in cost of campaigns, money parties charge aspirants for running for office and for increased election security.