By Olamide Fakeye
Nigeria - The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) has called for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission to curb voter’s intimidation and suppression
The NAS Capoon, Mr Abiola Owoaje in a statement titled, ‘2023 Elections: Democracy of Trial’ while expressing sadness with ethnic profiling, voter’s intimidation and suppression that characterised voting in Lagos and other parts of the country, said the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission would help to sanitise Nigeria’s “electoral process by checkmating devious politicians who have realised the efficacy of the BVAS to expose electoral fraud and have resorted to voter suppression through unbridled violence".
According to him the House of Representatives should expedite action on the Electoral Offences Commission bill following its passage by the Senate paving way for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign it into law before the expiration of his tenure.
Owoaje described the violence that marred the March 18 elections in Lagos and other parts of the country as condemnable.
"The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) is greatly saddened by the recent developments in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria culminating in the upsurge in ethnic profiling on and off social media, group blame, verbal assaults and intimidation, physical attacks, hate speech and reckless propaganda, indicative of a growing and dangerous trend of intolerance as part of Nigeria’s political culture.
“We condemn the odious resort to intimidation and physical attacks by some undesirable elements as witnessed in some parts of Lagos on March 18 with the sole objective to stymie voting in political opponents’ strongholds mostly based on tribal bias. These actions are unconstitutional, uncivilised and antithetical to the tenets of democracy. Freedom of association, unfettered membership of political parties, and the choice of voting for preferred candidates are guaranteed rights in the Nigerian constitution. Infringing upon these liberties as witnessed in Lagos and other parts of the country imperils democracy".
Owoaje scored the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) low over its inability to ensure transmission of results of the Presidential results on the IReV portal, stressing that its excuse of technical glitches was “totally unconvincing, questionable and embarrassing".
He enjoined Nigerians not to despair in their "enthusiasm for and commitment to democracy” and commended them for refusing to be drawn into post-election violence which could endanger democracy.
Owoaje called on INEC and the security agencies to fish out personnel proven to have connived with unscrupulous politicians to compromise the electoral process and ensure they face the full wrath of the law.
"We reiterate our plea to the political class to guard against inflammatory utterances capable of fanning the embers of hate, ethnic strife and ethnic supremacy thereby delegitimizing the election results and ultimately undermining democracy. We welcome the intervention of those political leaders that have denounced ethnic profiling and we encourage more political leaders to courageously speak out against bigotry.
"The security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), have the onerous responsibility to ensure the speedy prosecution of all electoral offenders. Even this in the light of the sad reminder that in Nigeria promoters and enablers of brigandage, vote theft and killings in previous electoral cycles have not been adequately prosecuted to serve as deterrence and discourage the impunity witnessed in some parts of Lagos and other parts of Nigeria on March 18. These perpetrators of violence, if not already arrested, should be fished out to face the full wrath of the law".