2011: Civil Society Vows to Prosecute Political Thugs, others

Source: OBONG JOSEPH - thewillnigeria.com
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UYO, August 05, (THEWILL) - As their contributions to ensure free and fair elections, Coalition of Civil Society and Human Rights body in Nigeria have vowed to trace, identify and prosecute political thugs, electoral frauds and terrorists during the conduct of the 2011 general elections in the country.

"We will pioneer tripartite relationships with INEC, the security operatives and the political parties on how to significantly arrest electoral violence and allow the process to run unhindered", the coalition said today.

The Chairman, Civil Society and Human Rights Coalition, Akwa Ibom State, Comrade Ifot N. Ifot at a press conference in Uyo, the State capital said such relationship with stakeholders is necessary to evolve methodology to organize credible elections and sustain the interest of Nigerians in democratic governance.

Also, the conglomerate of several civil society and human right activists have planned an elaborate civic and voter education as well as public enlightenment across the three senatorial districts of the state within the next two weeks.

Comrade Ifot advocated that political parties should impose financial ceilings on campaigns saying a situation where money freely exchange hands without effective monitoring are likely to influence voters negatively.

Heavy reliance on private funding, he said had been reason for failed elections as the political parties lack organizational capacity to generate their own income through legitimate means.

The coalition equally suggested that the National Assembly should hasten and pass a law against political donations by private individuals while INEC should reconcile all laws and sources of funding of the parties including corporate donors, state owned companies and state institutions.

Again, the activist groups demanded that the law requiring external fund be transferred to INEC.

The chairman of the coalition complained that the issue of zoning of political offices in 2011 has distracted Nigerians from being focused in producing a transparent, accountable and fiscally disciplined leadership, pointing out that the 2011 elections is very important as it is expected to define the character and direction of the nation’s democratic experiment.

According to the group, the 2011 elections will judge whether President Goodluck Jonathan, INEC, security operatives and Nigerians are sincere to conduct free and fair election as well as institute a political culture that support and enhance democracy and its ideals.

"The elections will prove whether the political class has learnt sufficient lessons in democratic practice after years of trial and error.

"Above all, it will show whether INEC under Professor Attahiru Jega is truly committed to the ideals of democracy and is ready to exhibit an undiluted fidelity to the electoral laws and the fundamental provisions of the constitution", comrade Ifot said.

He maintained that the challenges facing the electoral process in the country is the absolute need to develop a comprehensive legal framework capable of guaranteeing the total independence of INEC to eliminate bias, ensure integrity of electoral process etc.

Ifot posited that elections conducted by the politicians are often characterized by all forms of crude traditional methods including juju to coerce the electorates to their submission.

"Another most disturbing issue at stake is lack of internal democracy in the political parties and discipline amongst the members.

"Lack of internal democracy has exalted the godfathers over party regulations, and this often results in imposition of candidates on the party," he said.

For the chairman of the coalition, internal democracy is a catalyst for enduring peace, before, during and after elections leading to the emergence of a purpose driven, people oriented, focused and accountable leaders at various strata of government.