The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is committed to ensuring a violence-free election in parts of Ebonyi in the 2023 polls.
Dr Joseph Chukwu, the Commission’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ebonyi, stated this during an interactive meeting with the members of the Ebonyi State Traditional Rulers Council on Friday in Abakaliki.
According to the REC, the strategic meeting was aimed at providing a platform to enable the electoral body and the Ebonyi Royal Fathers to exchange ideas on the best ways to stem violence before, during and after the elections.
He said: “Our Royal Fathers, you will agree with me that the social and conventional media have been inundated with reported cases of violence amongst members of the various political parties since the commencement of campaigns for the 2023 general elections.
“These alleged violent clashes among the members of the different political parties in some states of the federation including Ebonyi are giving a serious concern to the commission.
“We have, therefore, scheduled this meeting with you to exchange ideas on how to stem the tide of electoral violence in various communities in the state.
“As the custodian of the people’s culture and tradition and as the ones who superintendent over the affairs of the people at the grassroots level, we believe that you have a very important role to play in making the 2023 elections credible and devoid of violence in your communities.”
Chukwu urged the traditional rulers to appeal to the candidates, their supporters and youths from their communities and domains to conduct their campaigns, rallies and meetings according to the provisions of the 2022 Electoral law and other extant laws.
“Appeal to the politicians especially candidates and their supporters to eschew the use of foul and provocative words or indulging in other actions that may likely provoke violent reactions or emotions during their rallies, processions and meetings.
“We want to stress that destruction of campaign billboards and posters of candidates as well as preventing political parties from using public places for their rallies are against the provisions of the 2022 electoral act,” he added.
The REC revealed that the 2023 general elections in Ebonyi would be conducted in the 2,946 polling units in the 171 electoral wards of the state.
“It’s gladdening to inform your Royal Highnesses that the new electoral act 2022 has given legal backing to INEC to deploy technology to enhance the credibility of the electoral process.
“I want to let you know that the commission is working hard to ensure completion of the printing of the PVC for those registered after the first quarter of 2022 as well as those who applied for transfer or replacement of their lost or damaged PVCs,” he said.
Responding, Dr Charles Nkpuma, the Chairman of Ebonyi Traditional Rulers Council, pledged the readiness of the royal fathers to partner with the commission to achieve credible, transparent and violence-free elections in the state in 2023.