Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has told the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that sensitive election materials can’t be stashed in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria spoke in Ado Ekiti, on Thursday, at a Southwest Youth and Women Conference organised by New Generation Girls and Women Development Initiative (NIGAWD) and Balm in Gilead Foundation for Sustainable Development (BIGIF).
The event, sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development, National Democratic Institute and United Kingdom Agency for International Development, was intended to promote the ‘Vote not Fight initiative’, in Ekiti and Osun governorship polls.
Ruing the increasing penchant and propensity for election manipulations and bloodshed in the country, Falana craved the establishment electoral offences Tribunal, to try offenders to sanitise the system.
He regretted that despite that over 2,000 electoral offenders had been arrested by the police since the 2011 general elections, many were neither zealously prosecuted nor punished.
According to him, “INEC is trying, it has deployed technology to get rid of rigging, but we can no longer keep sensitive election materials in the vault of the CBN.”
Expressing worries over the trajectory of youths’ involvement in thuggery, Falana, said: “Don’t allow politicians to induce you with money. When I was contesting in 2003, I told politicians that if you want the children of the poor to be thugs, let your children lead them.
“What I have seen and felt in Nigeria was that the politicians give thugs money, drugged and armed them. And after the election, they will not be able to fund them and they become criminals.
“There was a by-election in Omuo-Ekiti to fill a vacancy in the House of Assembly, three people were killed and two policemen injured. Right now, people are being attacked in Ekiti and the same in Osun. But all we demand is credible, free and fair election.”
The BIGIF and NIGAWD Executive Directors, Oluwatumininu Adedeji and Abimbola Aladejare-Salako respectively, urged INEC and other stakeholders to work hard to prevent rigging, bloodshed and violence in the Ekiti and Osun elections.
They also reiterated that youth and women should be included in the policy-making organs by all political parties to give them recognition.
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