By Grace Isaac, Osogbo
A Non Governmental Organizations, Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI), Osun Peace and Meditation Working Committee and Election Violence Mitigation and Monitoring (EVMM) have pleaded with stakeholders, political parties among others to ensure peaceful atmosphere in the state.
The groups also called on the public to shun any utterances that can trigger violence in the state saying utterances should be a healing and not divisive statement.
They made the call on Thursday at a press conference addressed in Osogbo, Osun State capital.
Addressing the Journalists, the Coordinator, Osun Peace and Meditation Working Committee , Alhaja Sadiat Oladapo, charged the government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for electoral violence during the Just concluded 2023 presidential and State house of Assembly elections in the state.
She lamented that the cases of violence during the last Elections was disturbing saying it requires urgent solution.
Mrs Oladapo stressed that KDI/EVMM Data Room report shows that there were pockets of violence tracked and documented on the elections days .
” 11 electoral violence cases were reported and documented during the general election in Osun state-4 cases during the Presidential election and 7 cases during the State House of Assembly. Cumulatively, these incidents of violence impacted over 50 individuals and one (1) death was recorded in the process .
“The form of violence tracked and documented include Physical harm, attempted murder, politically motivated arrest, Group clash, Intimidation of voters, ballot box snatching and destruction.
“Ila, Atakunmosa East, Atakunmosa West, llesha East, llesha west, Ede South, Ife South and Osogbo were LGAs that predominantly experienced this violence.”
Speaking further, The groups condemned all acts of pre- election violence and vote buying during the election .
“In the build-up to the 2023 general elections, KDI deployed a multifaceted approach to its Election Violence Monitoring and Mitigation effort. With the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), KDI established an Election Security Early Warning System (ESEWS) in the six geo-political zones
“Assessing the pre-election environment to identify early warning-deploying 276 long-term security monitors to gathered week in week out security information from the fields across six states in Nigeria, which Osun State is included with 60 long-term security monitors deployed into the 30 LGAs. Additionally, KDI, in the last 13 months, has been tracking and documenting issues of electoral violence and the potential for violence across the countries.
“Osun was largely involved in the 25 February 2023 presidential/NASS election. However, being one of the states in the off-cycle governorship election, the state only went to poll on the 18 March to elect the new state House of Assembly members. We cannot but commend the resilience of patriotic Nigerians, especially the citizens who turned out to vote on the election days and salute the commitment of the Youth Corp members for their commitment to democratic health in Nigeria.”
On their observation, the she said: ” KDI EVMM pre-election monitoring revealed that there had been 344 cases of electoral violence in Nigeria, leading to over 170 deaths between January 1, 2022, to February 17, 2023.
“Recall that we did call attention to the fact that Osun state is one of the state with the highest number of pre-election-related violence within this period. This is not disconnected from the fact that the state governorship was conducted within the period under review. This trajectory presents Osun State as one of the states at high risk of electoral violence in southwester Nigeria. The pre-election environment was characterized by the destruction of political party billboards, harassment of political party offices, and frequent incidents candidates and voters, attacks on of mob violence.
“We condemned vote buying in any form. One would have thought the Naira redesign and scarcity of physical cash would play a major role in curbing vote buying. Yet the political class device means to see that voters were inducement in different forms.
“Party agents of various political parties orchestrated 73% of this act openly, and security agents were present in most polling units where vote-buying cases occurred. Agents of political parties were seen inducing voters with materials things, and money ranging from N500-N5,000.
“KDI is concerned with the sense of impunity most political party agents are using to buy votes at PU-the secrecy of the ballot is often jeopardised- which is against the tenet of democratic elections. We fully commend the arrest of some vote traders made towards the elections. We urge that this should not stop at that- there should be a prosecution
“Elections are just the beginning of our journey towards good governance; the State Peace and Mediation Working Committee, at this moment, requests and passionately pleads with all stakeholders: Political parties, youth leaders and security officers to please ensure a peaceful atmosphere and utterances should be to healing and not to divisive statement .
“We call on the government to investigate and hold accountable all those responsible divisive statements. for any acts of violence or electoral malpractice during the 2023 elections. It is crucial that justice is served, and perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. We remain committed to promoting democracy, human rights, and good governance in Nigeria and will continue to support efforts to strengthen our democracy.”
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