The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to ensure the forthcoming Edo governorship election is free, fair, transparent and peaceful.
Mr Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA National Coordinator made the call at a news conference on Monday in Abuja.
Onwubiko also called on the commission to ensure that it was not intimidated by security forces during the election.
He explained that elections were transparent when each step was open to scrutiny, and stakeholders could independently verify whether the process was conducted honestly and accurately.
He maintained that information relating to all stages of the electoral cycle must be made available and accessible to citizens, including voters and candidates.
“Nonpartisan and partisan observers should be accredited to observe all phases of the election process and be permitted to comment publicly on the process free from unreasonable restrictions,” he said.
Onwubiko added that any attempt to rig the forthcoming Edo governorship election slated for Sept. 19, might not augur well for the state and Nigeria in general.
He specifically appealed to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC), and other political players participating in the election to see it as an opportunity for Edo people to democratically elect their governor.
He stressed that the people of the state must be allowed to freely exercise their voting rights without interference from any quarter.
Onwubiko advised that security forces should strive to be objective, before, during and after the election.
He added that they should also not allow themselves to be used as agents by any politician to undermine the electoral process and the will of the people of the state.
“HURIWA wants the Edo governorship poll to be credible; we agree that inclusive elections provide equal opportunities for eligible citizens to participate as voters in selecting their representatives and as candidates for election to government.
“This right to participate is a broad concept and can only be subject to reasonable restrictions that are provided by law.
“Authorities must take steps to assess and remove any barriers to the participation of all citizens during elections, “ he said.
The HURIWA national coordinator frowned at the verbal attacks by some politicians in the state during electioneering campaigns, adding that this was not the way to go.
He, therefore, advised such politicians to restrain from using abusive words during electioneering campaigns.
He condemned the reported posting of soldiers to protect the former APC National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomole, saying it was contrary to the law.
“This report if proven, amounts to a gross abuse of power because soldiers ought not to be posted as gate men.
“This is against the Constitution of the Nigerian Armed Forces,” he said.
He added that there must be effective remedies in place for violations of citizens’ election-related rights.
He further added that there must also be administrative accountability for those organising elections and those conducting governmental activities related to elections.
“In addition, there must be timely procedures to bring to account those who conduct criminal acts that affect electoral-related rights,” Onwubiko said.