From AMEDU JOSEPH, Lokoja
Against the backdrop of the high incidence of violence in Kogi governorship election, the stakeholders in the state have called on the president Muhammadu Buhari and members of the National Assembly to ensure speedy passage and assent to the election reforms bill pending before the National Assembly.
The stakeholders who were drawn from the Civil Society Organizations, the Religious bodies, Media and the security Agencies, made the call yesterday in lokoja, during the one day review meeting of the election organised by the Centre for the Advocacy of Justice and Rights ( CAJR) in partnership with International Foundation for Electoral Systems ( IFES) with support from USAID and UKAID.
They noted that the introduction of electronic voting devices , though , it may have imperfections, is the only antidote against the high rate of election violence that caused serious human casualties and snatching of ballot boxes.
According to one of the speakers, Ibrahim Ghali Yabagi who represented Jamautul Nasil Islam JNI, calls for the intervention of God in future elections stressing that greed , avarice and undue quest for powers have been the major causes of election violence in the state.
He called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari if he want to be taken serious in the fight against corruption, he should ensure that electronic voting devices is imputed in our electoral laws to mitigate against ballot box snatching and all other violence associated with election.
He said that Islam teaches peace in all ramifications and the followers are expected to exhibit the same in their daily conduct saying contesting election should not be a yardstick for violence.
He commended the Civil Society Organizations for their efforts at sensitizing the people before, during and after the election blamed the political class for the violence in Kogi.
In his contribution, the representative of Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) Kogi state chapter, Reverend Ojuola David , want INEC to be above board and not to come with lame excuses that they had made adequate preparation but politicians and Security Agencies failed them, calling them to emulate the former Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega who left a legacy in the history of Nigeria elections.
He explained that the more the society become corrupt and greedy, the more violent the elections will become asking Nigerians to curb immortality and quest for inordinate ambitions.
In his contribution, the Project Officer of the CAJR , Kingsley Obida, disclosed that his organisation will come out with its reports on the election which will be devoid of partisanship, saying the reports from the field is already on the organization websites , decried the high level of violence that has place the country on bad light among the comity of nations.
Obida added that his organisation and some credible Civil Society Organizations had put in their best through seminars, workshops , symposium and talk-shops in order for the citizens to conforms to democratic tenets but lamented that the ambitions of the political class has diminish the efforts they have put into the election.
He assured the people of the reliability of the report by his organisation which is working with IFES, a world wide reputable organisation to produce incontrovertible election reports.
Meanwhile, the review meeting were unanimous in their call for the de radicalisation of the thugs , while calling on the government to ensure arms and ammunition are retrieved from the unauthorised persons in the state.
“For 2023 election not to be more violence prone and to curtail escalation of crimes and criminality, government should ensure these arms are mopped up. They should create correctional centres were these boys are reintegrate into the society and this takes the concerted effort of the government” They chorused.