The Joint Action Civil Society, a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), has called for the establishment of a Violent Incidents and Election Atrocity Fusion Centre (VIEAFUC) to curb electoral violence .
One of the Conveners of the group, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, made the call at a press briefing tagged: “Towards a Violence Free 2019 Elections’’ on Thursday in Abuja.
Odinkalu said that it had become imperative for the nation to have such a centre in order to check electoral violence.
He said that the centre would monitor, systematise, document and report data, information .
He said that it would also be responsible for analysis of events and factors that impeded the achievement of a violence-free election with a view to seeking accountability wherever possible.
Odinkalu said that the group would monitor events and the actions and in-actions of stakeholders leading to the elections and beyond, that incited violence, document them and demand justice.
He also stressed the need for security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities ahead of the general elections.
“We wish to draw particular attention to the fundamental role of the security agencies in providing a safe and secure environment for Nigerians to exercise their civic duty.
“It is crucial that security agencies act, and are seen to act in an impartial manner by maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and allegiance to the Nigerian State and not political parties.
” It is also equally important that the government ensures that our security agencies are adequately equipped and morally boosted to contain violence.
“When that is done ,they will be able to safeguard lives and property, and ensure free and fair elections devoid of violence across the country. ”
According to Odinkalu , while free speech is essential, fake, hateful and inciting speech naturally instigate violence, and called on peddlers to stop or stiff sanctions would be taken against them.
“We serve a reminder to all that what we all desire is a nation in which we all can call our own.
” One in which we inhabit in peace and prosperity. This single vision should bind us beyond the lines that divide us.”he said
Odinkalu said that leaders should therefore clearly articulate to their supporters that the forthcoming election was not a call for violent confrontation to power exclusivity, but a peaceful contest of ideology and vision.
He said that the decision of who wins the elections should be by popular vote and not the manipulation of electoral processes.
He, therefore, urged all voters to use their democratic franchise and vote peacefully and should their candidates lose, they should accept it in good faith.
Ms Abiodun Baiyewu, another convener, also cautioned against hate speech and dissemination of fake news and called for the peddlers of such acts to desist from them.
Baiyewu said that such people fueled violence which if not checked would impact on the 2019 general elections except immediate action was taken to check it.
She called on stakeholders to jointly bring perpetrators of violence and killings to book and urged citizens to work toward the actualisation of the Nigerian project come 2019. With reports by NAN