Cynthia Mbamalu, founder of Yiaga Africa
By Jethro Ibileke
Nigeria’s political watchdog, Yiaga Africa, has condemned what it called the desperation of political actors to capture power, by all means, saying that it remains a threat to the country’s electoral democracy.
The citizen-led non-governmental organization stated this on Sunday in a statement on the Ekiti east bye-elections, signed by its Director of Programs, Cynthia Mbamalu.
Recall that the election which was held on Saturday, 20 March 2021, was marred with violence, resulting in the death of three persons.
“Yiaga Africa condemns in its totality this onslaught on the election in Ekiti East State bye-election and the violence that has cost us innocent lives.
“No citizen deserves to die in the course of exercising their civic right and performing their civic responsibility.
“The desperation of political actors to capture power, by all means, remains a threat to our electoral democracy.
“It is embarrassing to watch our political class violate the electoral laws with impunity and utmost disregard for the sanctity of life and good practice.
“No democracy can thrive if politicians circumvent the rule of law, deploy violence and other rigging tactics to win elections at all costs,” Mbamalu said.
He noted that the electoral violence witnessed during the election is despicable and antithetical to the democratic rules of credible elections.
According to him, “The unleashing of mayhem on the process, which resulted in the death of Nigerians performing their civic duty and gunshot wounds sustained by an NYSC member and a female police officer at their duty post, was an assault on democracy and the sanctity of life.”
However, the Yiaga Africa boss commended the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to suspend the process indefinitely, noting that no credible elections can be conducted under a chaotic atmosphere.
According to him, “The commission and the police should immediately investigate this electoral violence and prosecute everyone guilty of this violence.
“The prosecution must include both the sponsors of the violence and the individuals deployed to cause the violence.
“Nigeria’s democracy can no longer be driven by renegades pretending to be political leaders/politicians. The immediate prosecution of these offenders will deter future actors and reduce this culture of impunity.”
Mbamalu called on the police and other security agencies to live up to their responsibility of protecting voters, voting materials, and electoral officials before, during, and after elections.
He also charged political parties and politicians to urge their supporters to shun violence and other acts capable of undermining our electoral process.
“We further urge the National Assembly to hasten the electoral amendment process to enable the timely and diligent prosecution of electoral offenders, as well as systemic challenges plaguing our electoral process, are addressed,” Mbamalu added.