National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has strongly condemned reported cases of electoral violence received through the 2023 general elections human rights situation room as well as field reports collated from human rights monitors deployed to monitor the presidential and national assembly elections across the 36 states.
Chief Tony Ojukwu, SAN, Executive Secretary of the Commission, made this known at a media briefing in Abuja on Monday, February 27, while giving a human rights situation report on Saturday’s elections.
According to Chief Ojukwu, cases ranging from ballot box snatching, attacks on voters and INEC officials, and the shooting of a party agent by some individuals and thugs were recorded during the general election.
Speaking further, Ojukwu said there were reports that the voting process was challenging in some parts of the country due to the late arrival of INEC personnel and electoral materials. There were also reports of voter suppression where attempts were made to intimidate voters and INEC officials in Rivers, Lagos, Kogi, and Imo States, he added.
The Chief Human Rights Officer also stated that the upsurge in the number of voters without adequate deployment of polling unit personnel resulted in the voting process characterised by unduly prolonged and heightened vulnerabilities to electoral violence and malpractices.
The Commission’s Boss also revealed that vote buying was reported by the human rights monitors in 42 locations across the country, especially in Lagos, Imo, Sokoto, Jigawa, Edo, Nasarawa, and Kogi states. “Voters were offered money or other incentives to influence their votes,” he said.
Ojukwu disclosed that the Commission mobilised and deployed 800 Human Rights monitors across the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory to monitor the right to vote, and the level of access accorded to Nigerians to exercise their rights.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria explained that the press briefing is the preliminary findings of the Presidential and National Assembly elections even as he commended the conduct of security personnel during the exercise.
He stated further that from the field report, it was observed that the crowd was overwhelming in some polling units. There were cases of human rights violations attributed to security agents including the use of force and extra-judicial killings.
The human rights Czar, therefore, calls on INEC to ensure that Nigerians who were disenfranchised on election day are able to vote in the rescheduled elections, and the forthcoming Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections, as well as to ensure prompt uploads of results of elections into its election portals for transparency and integrity in the electoral process.
He also used the medium to urge Nigerians to remain calm, patriotic, and loyal to the laws of the country and avoid any act capable of causing violence.
Similarly, he charged politicians, traditional and religious leaders, and citizens to desist from hate speeches, incitement to violence, and divisive rhetoric in this critical moment of the transition program.
The Commission he added will not fail to invoke its protective mandate to hold any Nigerian no matter his or her status in the society accountable for any violence or threat of violence that erupts as a result of their speeches, incitements, and reckless statements