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Hold credible polls to avoid needless agitations, W’African coalition tells INEC

Insecurity may undermine voter turnout, foundation warns

A month to general elections, a coalition of civil society organisations, West African Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), has charged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure credible conduct of the polls.

The organisation, which is a coalition of 30 civil society organisations and other civic groups in the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) region, including Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and YIAGA Africa, noted that conducting a free, fair and credible poll would ensure there is no outbreak of violence and agitations in any part of the country.

Coordinator of WADEMOS, Kop’ep Dabugat, made the call during an interactive session between members of the WADEMOS Election Working Group (EWG) and journalists, in Abuja, yesterday.

The session was part of the coalition’s three-day solidarity mission to Nigeria, from January 25 to 27.

Dabugat said: “We see that this is a very unique election in West Africa, given the number of voter turnout, which is even more than the population of several countries. So, the implication is that, once anything goes wrong in Nigeria, it affects the whole West Africa.

“As it is said, when Nigeria sneezes, the whole West Africa catches cold. So, it is important that we ensure that these elections move smoothly and that people do not agitate unnecessarily and violence does not erupt.”

In a related development, a political foundation, Korad-Adenauer Stifung (KAS), warned that insecurity might impact voter turnout and affect the elections.

KAS Resident Representative, Marija Peran, made this known at a two-day capacity building programme in Abuja, organised for all state commandants and management of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), with support from the foundation, as part of security preparations for the elections.

She said: “With free and fair elections being the cornerstone of every democracy, security agencies provide an important opportunity to advance democratisation and encourage political freedom, giving citizens a platform to choose a new government till the next periodic elections.

“Therefore, it is important for security personnel to exhibit neutrality during elections rather than being partisan to political parties, candidates or other primordial interests.”

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