The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says there should not be rewards for bad behaviour in elections amid concerns of violence and intolerance ahead of the Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi governorship polls.
The national electoral body appealed to political leaders to ensure violence-free campaigns and peaceful elections in the off-cycle gubernatorial elections, insisting there should not be rewards for “bad behaviour.”
INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu made the call during the commission’s quarterly consultative meeting with political parties on the review of the 2023 general elections.
“The use of thugs during elections to harass election officials, intimidate voters and disrupt processes, sometimes resulting in the destruction of election materials or even worse, must be addressed. Campaigns in public by parties and candidates in the three states commenced on July 14, as provided in the timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship elections,” stated Mr Yakubu.
The INEC chief added, “Sadly, there are already disturbing reports of clashes between opposing parties with claims and counterclaims of innocence or culpability. These claims help no one. Call your supporters to order.”
Mr Yakubu also warned against using the power of incumbency to deny opposition parties access to state facilities or media for the campaign, saying it was against the law.
“I must also acknowledge the perennial complaints from some political parties that the power of incumbency is used in some states to restrain some parties and candidates from access to public facilities for media campaigns and outdoor advertising through exorbitant fees or outright denial,” he stated. “This often leads to the mutual destruction of advertising materials such as billboards, resulting in altercation and violence involving supporters of opposing political parties.”
The INEC chair explained that denying access to state facilities by political parties “is a violation of the law that shouldn’t be tolerated.”
“There shouldn’t be reward for bad behaviour. Political parties that are here, some of the states where you denied political citizens access are controlled by you, so please also join through IPAC in speaking to the leadership of your state where such situations arise,’’ Mr Yakubu stressed.