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NEMA, stakeholders parley over polls-related violence, prepare assessment report


58 killed in pre-2015 election violence, says NHRC

THE National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has met with stakeholders in emergency management and electoral processes seeking to find solution to averting election-related violence in the country.

Coordinator, Abuja Operations Office of NEMA, Mr. Ishaya Chonoko, while speaking at a sensitisation programme on election violence held Wednesday in Abuja, said the agency, in partnership with critical stakeholders in election security, has produced the Nigerian Election Risk Preparedness and Contingency Plan, having conducted a risk assessment on events that characterised previous elections in the country, especially 2011 general elections.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Wednesday painted a gory picture of election-related violence in the country, saying over 58 lives have so far been lost preparatory to the 2015 general elections across 22 states in the country.

Chairman of the Commission, Prof Chidi Odinkalu said this while on advocacy visit to security operatives, leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), two leading political parties in the state, maintaining that the trend portends great danger to the forthcoming general elections if left unattended.

Chonoko, the NEMA chief disclosed that the assessment identified 20 states as flashpoints, according to their past history and skirmishes which characterised the current electioneering campaigns.

“Ladies and gentlemen, pre-election and post-election violence is a common feature in African politics. You will agree with me that politicians and their supporters see politics as a do or die affair. As such, all manners of intimidations are implored by politicians to gain advantage over their opponents.

He said it is, therefore, imperative for all critical stakeholders and major players in the 2015 general elections to exercise restrain in the conduct of their affairs in the interest of peace and mutual co-existence.

Director, FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Alhaji Abbas Idriss, who spoke on imperative of violence-free general elections, noted that the magnitude of avoidable loss of lives and property, which followed the 2011 presidential election, was worrisome.

Assistant Director of Programmes, National Orientation Agency (NOA), FCT chapter, Baba Yisa, who said the issue of peace is important in election conduct, said the need to step up sensitisation couldn’t be over-emphasised.

INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the FCT, Prof Jacob Jatau, said electioneering is not a responsibility of INEC alone but all stakeholders.

Chairman FCT, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Israel Akanji said religion has a very important role and urged Christians not to participate in violence because it is a violation of the teachings of the Bible, adding that as a Christian we should rather go and help the helpless so as to help the situation of those who are dying

Representative of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Tamim Yusuf said the measures the group has been taken is to sensitize our people especially with reference to our Holy Quran that talk against violence, killings and destruction of properties, adding that we have been sensitizing our people in all the mosques, gatherings before and after the elections to shun violence.

Odinkalu said the visit to Lagos was predicated on the strategic importance of Lagos to Nigeria, having received over 22 petitions on election related violence in Lagos.

On the peace accord recently signed by politicians to mitigate violence, Odinkalu said the political parties have done enough to uphold the tenets of the peace accords.

“I don’t think the political parties had done enough to stop hate speech, there are hate speeches on both sides, both parties have not done enough to dissuade violence done in their names or against their opponents. It takes the right tone for leaders to come up and said you cannot do that in my name.

“We don’t want things to get out of hand, we will not be able to contain the crisis. There are challenges in Lagos that is why we want to put at the front burner what happened here.

Apart from Lagos, Odinkalu identified Rivers and Kaduna states as the other most hot spots for election related violence in Nigeria, saying the commission has already visited Rivers state ad will be visiting Kaduna state from Lagos.

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