Nigeria Election: Foreign Observers Call for Global Sanction on Perpetrators of Violence

An INEC official holds up a ballot paper during the counting process at a polling station in Egbeda, Lagos, during Nigeria’s presidential and general election [Benson Ibeabuchi/AFP]


Foreign observers under the aegis of the National Democratic Institute (NDI)/International Republican Institute (IRI) on the Nigeria 2023 International Election Observation Mission have urged the international community to sanction perpetrators of electoral violence in the ongoing general election in Nigeria.

The NDI and IRI made the request at their preliminary joint press conference they addressed in Abuja Monday in collaboration with other international observer mission groups.

Those who spoke on the occasion included former President of the Republic of Malawi, who is the head of the delegation, Dr. Joyce Banda, and Ambassador Mark Green, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Woodrow Wilson, an International Center for Scholars.

Other speakers included Ambassador Johnnie Carson, a former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; and an IRI Board member, Constance Berry Newman, who was a former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

They also included NDI Board Member, who is an American political leader, lawyer/voting rights activist, Stacey Abrams and IRI Board member, Dana White, a foreign policy and communications advisor.

In the speech read on behalf of the coalition, Banda wondered why political leaders and candidates failed to honor the peace agreement they signed before the elections.

Banda said: "The international community should publicly sanction government and party officials who orchestrate, tolerate, or encourage electoral violence.

"Political actors should fully adhere to their Peace Accord commitments, including seeking redress of electoral complaints that may arise through proper legal channels and abide by the outcomes of judicial proceedings.

"Parties and candidates should hold accountable supporters to desist from any acts of violence, particularly during and after the tabulation and announcement of results.

"Security forces should prioritize enforcement in areas likely to be targets of strategic election violence.

"The National Assembly should prioritize passage of the bill that would establish the Electoral

Offences Tribunal to better hold perpetrators accountable for electoral violations and alleviate the burden on INEC to prosecute offenders.

"INEC and security forces should widely publicize and consistently enforce the penalties for committing electoral offences under the new electoral law, particularly vote buying. INEC and

security forces should also communicate to the public the number of arrests, charges and convictions for the electoral offences."

Banda said the observer mission groups did not see anybody physically involved in vote buying throughout the 20 states, spread across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, visited by them.

The coalition however said: "INEC should dedicate resources to enforce campaign finance regulations, and make political party disclosures publicly available online and in a timely manner."

The foreign observers also "asked political parties to hold candidates, party members and party agents accountable for participating in vote buying or inducement, hate speech or ethnic polarization".

They noted that despite electoral reforms by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the 2023 polls fell far from expectations.

They lamented that logistics problems marred the process, while the issue of naira and fuel scarcity worsened the situation.

They said: "Logistical challenges threatened the sanctity of the election. INEC should be more proactive, and release result timely and respect the will of the people.

"Security agencies should probe all cases of violence experienced during the process and prosecute perpetrators."

They sought special attention for the internally displaced people, other vulnerable women and people living with disabilities in subsequent elections.

They also urged INEC to reduce pressure on registration and process of obtaining permanent voter card for the youths.

Part of their joint statement read: "INEC should dedicate more resources to assist materials and voting centers for IDPs, and for more robust surveys to improve the electoral participation of marginalized groups.

"Lawmakers should consider updating the Electoral Act 2022 to support absentee voting for voters that are not able to be at their registered polling unit on Election Day, such as observers, polling Officials, security personnel and out-of-state workers.

"Lawmakers should prioritize gender quota legislation to increase the representation of women in elected office and state parties should provide material and financial resources to support women, youth and PWD candidates, develop robust recruitment and training strategies, and reform internal democratic procedures to ensure more inclusive candidates.

"Nigerian media houses should continue to support fact-checking desks and partnerships to mitigate rumors and false information regarding electoral processes."Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (