Ahead of the March 18 governorship polls, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), yesterday, urged politicians to call their supporters to order and reduce rising tension and election-related violence in several states across the country.
The organisation in a statement by its Research and Policy Officer, Zikora Ibeh, expressed worry over the rising use of hate speech, tribal and ethnic profiling as well as the widespread circulation of fake news laced with inciting comments.
“We are particularly worried about reports of rising tension in Sokoto, Lagos, Rivers and Kaduna among several others.
“All stakeholders, political leaders, security agencies, and the government must take immediate action to de-escalate the surging tension and violence, and safeguard the rights and dignity of every Nigerian as guaranteed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended),” he said.
The organisation observed that electoral violence not only undermines democracy but also perpetuates a culture of societal unrest and the exclusion of citizens from participating in governance processes.
According to the group, Nigeria is no stranger to the scourge of electoral violence, but in the past few weeks, the country had encountered a disturbing level of political thuggery and inciting commentaries.
It said: “There have been alleged physical attacks on targeted victims based on their political choices, ethnic or religious affiliations as well as instances of intimidation and coercion, verbal abuse, harassment, hate speech and incitement.
“We are particularly dismayed by the growing levels of tribal hostilities that are polarizing the beautiful diversity of the Nigerian people. These hateful ethnic diatribes, championed by divisive political elements bent on fanning the base sentiments of citizens have continued to fuel political disquietude and animosity among different ethnic groups.
“We are urging politicians and most importantly the candidates to act in manners that promote amity, engage their supporters in peaceful electoral processes and end all hateful rhetoric. We challenge political actors to take concrete steps to promote peace during elections by refining their campaigns to address pertinent questions of moving the country forward.”
The organisation noted that the peace of Nigerians was non-negotiable, urging all relevant security agencies such as the Police, and the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security amongst others to closely monitor the ongoing electoral process and hold all purveyors of violence and political actors accountable for their actions to deter others.
It then called on the good people of Nigeria to rise above ethnic, religious, and other secondary emotions to participate in the democratic process and hold politicians accountable for their actions and promises.