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2019: EU, US, UK, others speak as campaign begins, warns politicians, security agencies

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The international community has appealed to Nigeria to ensure a peaceful campaign season ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The countries said in a joint statement posted on the US Embassy website on Sunday.

The signatories are: European Union (Delegation to Nigeria), France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

The statement read: “As friends of Nigeria and its people, we will follow the campaigns and election process closely. Who wins the elections is for the Nigerian people to decide. Our concern is to see a process leading to free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.

“We hope to see transparent campaigns and we urge all voters to use their democratic right and vote. We are particularly keen to see greater participation of women, youth and people living with disabilities.

“We urge all involved – political and non-political actors – to refrain from using hate speech and take a firm stance against violence. The 2015 Peace Accords played an important role in that regard and we welcome new efforts towards that end.

“We were gravely concerned over widespread incidents of intimidation, interference and vote-buying during the recent gubernatorial elections. We were also perturbed by irregularities and violence during party primaries, and noted with particular concern that several women candidates were disenfranchised.

“We reiterate the importance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it fulfils its constitutional role. INEC must be allowed to operate free from outside pressure and intimidation, and in turn must demonstrate full neutrality and professionalism. We encourage that adequate funding is swiftly facilitated for INEC and supporting institutions, and we hope to see the entry into force of improvements to the Electoral Act as soon as possible.

“We wish to draw particular attention to the fundamental role of the security agencies in providing a safe and secure environment for the Nigerian people to exercise their democratic rights. It is vital that security agencies act, and are seen to act, in an impartial manner that maintains the high standards of professional conduct.

“We strongly support the principle of media freedom and the vital role the independent media plays in ensuring informed public debate. We also stress the importance of balanced, neutral and non-defamatory coverage.

“At the beginning of the 2019 electoral campaign, we would like to reiterate our strong commitment to support democracy in Nigeria. We encourage Nigeria and its people to consolidate and deepen democracy, building on the standards set in 2015.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday lifted ban on campaign for 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections slated for Feb. 16, 2019

A statement by Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, INEC Director Of Voter Education and Publicity, on Saturday, said the commencement of campaigns was in line with the Timetable and Schedule of Activities issued by the INEC.

He added that it was also in accordance with Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) which provides that “the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day”.

“Political Parties are expected to conduct their activities in an organized and peaceful manner, devoid of rancor, hate and/or inflammatory speeches.”

He reminded political parties and their candidates that campaigns for Governorship and State Houses of Assembly would commence on Dec. 1.

Yusuf Luka, is a journalist by profession with few years of experience, I am also a graduate of Bingham University. Outside of work, I enjoy hiking with friends, Reading books, and Watching movies. Let's connect on social media.

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