Home News 2015 elections: EU, U.S. urge Nigerians to ensure peaceful elections

2015 elections: EU, U.S. urge Nigerians to ensure peaceful elections


ABUJA – The European Union (EU) and United States on Thursday urged Nigerians to work towards ensuring peaceful election in 2015.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja, Mr Michel Arrion, EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, called on political  actors in the country to desist from using hate speeches and shun violence.

“Unfortunately, we all fear some electoral violence; we really insist that it is a duty for all players and all stakeholders of the political bodies, the government and the media to really make sure that violence is not used, that hate speech is avoided.

“I will not hide what I read today in the press. If really the speech delivered in Hausa by the Governor of Katsina (Ibrahim Shema) is real and confirmed, I would say it is the beginning of something that is a serious source of concern for us.

“He’s quoted as having said: “you should not be bothered with cockroaches of politics. What do you do when you have a cockroach in your house? and the crowd respond `you kill it, yes, you must crush them.

“Those kinds of statement are extremely dangerous and not acceptable.

“I’m not sure people using that kind of language realise what it means and I want to be really clear on that, we have to be careful and there is no good reason whatsoever to call someone a cockroach.”

Recalling the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the EU representative said that such hate speeches instigated acts of violence that could hamper the development process of any nation.

Arrion confirmed that an EU election observer mission to Nigeria would be in the country, on a “long-term basis” from December till April to observe the election process.

He said the observation team would be sent to the six geopolitical zones in the country to monitor the credibility of the elections and also observe the post-election process.

“We will have a few dozens of observers who will be mobile because they will be here for four months.

“They will look at the processes, the way the results are being aggregated; they will watch technical issues like the question of inclusiveness, the percentage of people who had been given the chance to vote.

“There is the question of security; we know there will be a certain number of cases of violence but you cannot have credible elections without a global peaceful atmosphere.

“They will look also at the access to the media for all political parties; we would also look at the dispute resolution mechanism in place.”

He said that the team would also observe the election process in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states notwithstanding, the state of emergency imposed on the affected states.

Arrion said that the observation team would also liaise with civil society organisations and local observers to effectively observe the electoral process.

The EU representative said that the organisation would support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) financially and also assist in civic and voter education.

He said that the recommendations made at the end of the observation would ensure enhanced elections in future.

In a separate statement, the United States expressed concerns over what it described as “violent political rhetoric” and reiterated the need for stakeholders to promote a peaceful election environment.

The statement, which was made available by the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, specifically condemned the statement made by the Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State.

It said: “The threat rhetorical threat of violence undermines the democratic process and is utterly unacceptable in a democratic society.

“The United States reiterates its call upon all Nigerians to refrain from advocating, fomenting, or condoning violence before, during, or after the elections.

“Participants in the electoral process must demonstrate passion for their convictions and beliefs in a manner that shows respect for opposing differences.”

The statement said all Nigerians must be free to voice their opinions and participate in the electoral process without fear of physical retribution in line with the constitution.

It said that political parties, elected leaders, and candidates for office had a special obligation to uphold the democratic precepts of the country.

The U.S. further reiterated its commitment to work with Nigeria to strengthen its democratic institutions. (NAN)

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