2023: Amidst Plan to Buy N13b Firearms, INEC Summons Political Parties
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Mahmood Yakubu, has summoned a meeting with leaders of political parties over the reported clashes among their supporters in some states.
Yakubu disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday, during the training of master trainers on election technology for the 2023 general election, as the police planned to spend N13bn on the purchase of firearms and other security hardware ahead of the polls.
The hostilities between the parties are happening barely three weeks after the campaigns officially kicked off and the political parties and their presidential candidates signed the peace accord under the auspices of the National Peace Committee.
Ahead of the commencement of the campaigns on September 28, there had been hostile and abusive verbal exchanges between the supporters of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu and the Labour Party flag bearer, Peter Obi.
A viral video of the Pyrates Confraternity in which the members were mocking a leading presidential candidate in a song also attracted anger and condemnations across the country.
Sequel to these incidents, the police warned politicians and their supporters against engaging in hate speech and cyberbullying and threatened to prosecute violators by relevant laws, adding that they could be charged under the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, Electoral Act or even Terrorism (Prevention) Act, depending on the content of the speeches.
Regardless of the Police riot act, hoodlums Monday attacked the Peoples Democratic Party presidential campaign mega rally in Kaduna.
The attackers reportedly came into the Ranchers Bees Stadium venue with sticks and machetes and attacked the party supporters, leaving many injured.
Also, thugs bombarded the residence of the PDP governorship candidate in Zamfara, Dr Dauda Lawal, on Saturday. During the violence, some people were injured while campaign buses were vandalised and looted.
Apparently worried by the rising wave of violence, the INEC chairman warned that parties, candidates and their supporters should “not by acts of commission or omission further complicate the prevailing security situation in the country.”
He stated, “Even as the commission is working hard to ensure a credible process in the forthcoming elections, reports of clashes among parties and their supporters in some states of the country during the ongoing electioneering is worrisome.
“So too is the reported denial of access to public facilities for parties and candidates in some states of the federation. Let me caution parties and their supporters to focus on issues and steer clear of attacks on each other.
“These are not only violations of the Electoral Act 2022 but also negate the voluntary commitment by all political parties and candidates to the letter and spirit of the peace accord signed about three weeks ago under the auspices of the NPC.”
Speaking further, Yakubu disclosed that the electoral body would continue to monitor the situation closely, adding that INEC would also meet with security agencies over the rising political tension in the country.