By Diana Omueza
Mr Benson Olugbuo, Executive Director of the foundation, gave the advice on Thursday during the dissemination of research findings from a Security Threat Assessment (STA), conducted by the foundation in 2018 across the 36 states of the Federation.
Olugbuo said that ahead of the general elections, party leaders, candidates, members and supporters should play the game according to the legal framework governing the electoral process.
“I urge both parties and candidates at all levels to play by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines and regulations as stated in the Electoral Act in the Constitution as amended.
“INEC should also carefully recruit and train their agents on their electoral roles and responsibilities.
“The commission should ensure timely, adequate and effective deployment of electoral personnel and materials. Its regular staff and ad hoc staff must remain impartial and incorruptible in all the entire elections.
“INEC must ensure the functionality and reliability of electoral equipment, especially the Smart Card Reader, and also ensure effective synergy and coordination with other electoral stakeholders.
“Stakeholders such as political parties, security agencies, civil society organisations, the media and the general public, must be carried along throughout the electoral processes”, he said.
The executive director also urged security agencies to be professional, impartial and incorruptible in securing the elections.
He advised security agents and agencies to abide by the code of conduct governing election security management.
“We advice that security agencies to avoid excessive use of force that will negatively impact on election security and participation of citizens during the elections.
“Oversight bodies should monitor the conduct of security agents on election duty and apply appropriate sanctions in the event of infractions,” he said.
Olugbuo said that hate speech and misinformation had been identified to be major threats likely to incite electoral violence, and called on the media to act professionally in the discharge of their responsibilities.
He appealed to journalists and social media bloggers to be professional in their conduct and respect the ethical codes for free, open and transparent coverage of the elections.
“Journalist should avoid sensationalism and fake news or disinformation or misinformation of the public before, during and after the elections.
“Regulatory bodies of the media should monitor and apply appropriate sanctions against erring media practitioners and outlets if need be,” he said.
Olugbuo also urged electorate to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and exercise their civic responsibility in an orderly and peaceful manner.
He urged Nigerians to report any observed infractions of electoral laws and guidelines to security agencies using appropriate reporting channels available to them.
He expressed optimism that the Federal Government would ensure enabling environment for a free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
Olugbuo also called on the international community to continue to support the electoral process to deepen democracy in Nigeria based on international best practices. (NAN)