By ANGELA ATABO
ABUJA- The Electoral Forum, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to compel political parties to present regular audit reports of their accounts, in line with the provisions of the law.
This is contained in a communiqué issued and signed by Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi, the Chairman, The Electoral Forum, at the end of the 7th Technical Session of the organization on Thursday in Abuja.
Olukoshi said that INEC must also publish the audit reports after receiving them.
He said that the forum expressed various concerns about elections in Nigeria and recommended strategies to improve the electoral process, ahead of the 2023 general election.
“Having agreed that consolidation of democracy involves widespread compliance with rule of law to guarantee a level playing field for candidates in elections, The Electoral Forum hereby recommends as follows:
“Engagement of INEC on the proper placement of voting cubicles during the election to ensure the secrecy of the ballots, in line with global integrity standards and best practices.
“INEC should train ad hoc staff on the proper placement of the voting cubicles to ensure secrecy of the ballot and privacy in relation to the positions of party agents during the voting process.
“The National Electoral Offences Commission should be an independent body and should not be subject to the Attorney General,” Olukoshi said.
He said also urged INEC and anti-graft agencies to ensure that there was compliance with the provisions of the law on campaigns.
He said the media should aid in boycotting negative news, hate speeches and ensure balanced coverage.
He added that mainstream and social media should be use to curb misinformation, disinformation and the issues pertaining to the misuse of media during the electioneering period.
He called for the revival of strategies and alliances by CSOs like before and which brought the changes in the electoral process between 1999 -2010 the first 10 years of democracy in Nigeria.
Olukoshi said that taskforce by citizens and CSOs should be formed to enable Nigerians to protect their mandate where necessary.
He called on CSOs to blow the whistle where the political classes use state resources for campaigns or personal gain.
He added that CSOs should also focus on the holistic agenda of good governance and not only on good elections as both were equally critical.
Olukoshi expressed concerns about the Electoral Offences Commission being subjected to the Attorney General of the Federation as this may lead to impunity at the highest level.
He called for policy-based and issue-based campaigns, eschewing hate speech in all its ramifications and that campaigns should target real issues facing the country with facts and figures.
He added that politicians should ensure that messages passed during campaigns were violence-free and impact positively on the audience.
“ In addition, banks and anti-corruption agencies such as ICPC and EFCC should be fully involved in monitoring campaigns and the electioneering period, and the media should spotlight more on policy-based campaigns by candidates and parties,’’ he said.
Olukoshi underscored the importance of security in the electoral process and emphasised that peaceful and credible elections could only be possible through close collaboration between INEC and the security agencies.
He also appreciated the initiatives of INEC such as the establishment of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) and identification of high-risk or flashy areas using electoral risk tools.
He named the tools as: the Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool (EVMAT), and the creation of voting centres for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) to ensure inclusivity for voters’ like people displaced due to insurgency. (NAN)