(L-R: The Representatives of: the NSCDC Commandant, the DSS Director and the Commissioner of Police)

ONE-DAY SEMINAR ON FREE AND FAIR 2019 ELECTIONS IN AKWA IBOM STATE ORGANISED BY THE CIVIL LIBERTIES ORGANISATION (CLO) IN COLLABORATION WITH THE INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) ON FRIDAY, 18TH JANUARY, 2019 AT THE NBA BAR CENTRE, UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE.

 

COMMUNIQUE

The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) Akwa Ibm State Branch organised a one-day seminar on free and fair 2019 Elections in Akwa Ibom State in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the NBA Bar Centre, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Friday, 18th January, 2019.  The seminar was attended by more than 100 participants, including government functionaries, leaders of professional bodies and civil society organisations, leaders and candidates of political parties, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), law enforcement officers, the academia, student leaders and journalists.  The seminar was chaired by Prof. (Monsignor) Sylvanus Udoidem, Rector of the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Professor of Philosophy, University of Port Harcourt who presented a key note address on the theme of the seminar. Papers were presented by Mr. Patta Anthony (representing Mike Igini. Esq., INEC Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State) on the topic: “The Preparedness of INEC for Free and Fair 2019 General Elections in Akwa Ibom State” and by Prof. Robert Dode, Head, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Uyo on the topic: “Ensuring an Atmosphere of Peace for the 2019 General Elections for Akwa Ibom State.”

(A cross section of participants)

Discussants included ACP Adekemi Ojo, representing the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Musa Kima; Mr. Daniel Azanetti, representing the Director, Department of State Services, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. S. M. Waziri; Barr (Mrs.) Ukemeobong Eduok, representing the Commandant, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Akwa Ibom State, and Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, Chairman, Cross River Basin Development Authority and Chairman, Media and Strategic Communication Committee of the State Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Akwa Ibom State.

The theme of the seminar was: “Towards Ensuring a Free and Fair 2019 General Elections in Akwa Ibom State.”

(A cross section of participants)

 

At the end of the seminar, the following communique was adopted:

  1. INEC should remain an unbiased umpire in the elections even as the security agencies should also remain neutral and non-partisan during the elections.

 

  1. INEC should be supported to conduct free and fair elections by traditional rulers, religious leaders, security agencies and political parties in the State.

 

  1. Political parties should strengthen internal democracy within them.

 

  1. Political parties have a key role to play in ensuring free and fair elections. This they can do by educating their members and supporters on the need to eschew politics of bitterness and abide by the laws of the land and INEC guidelines.

 

  1. Ensuring free and fair elections requires collaborative effort of the security agencies, INEC, politicians and their supporters, civil society organisations, and the voters.

 

  1. Propagation and circulation of hate speeches can lead to violence and mar free, fair and credible elections. Social media should be used with decency and moderation by political actors.

 

  1. The bulk of elections are held in the hinterland and in the rural areas. In order to ensure a violence-free, participatory, and free and fair elections, voter education should be extended to and intensified in those areas by INEC, political parties, civil society organisations, and the media in the State.

 

  1. The media should not only refrain from publishing hate speech but should also make efforts to combat and counter narratives of hate speech as they occur.

 

  1. As elections approach, it becomes imperative for stakeholders to engage in public discussions on free, inclusive and non-violent elections. The discussions should include political parties, the media, security agents, public institutions and other stakeholders on the best approach to address violence and create enabling environment for free and fair elections.

(Representative of INEC Commissioner)

In conclusion, INEC has a key role to play in ensuring free and fair 2019 General Elections in Akwa Ibom State. Security agencies also have a key role to play in providing an atmosphere of peace for the elections.  While INEC as the umpire must remain unbiased and functionally prepared, the security agencies must remain neutral and non-partisan. Even so, all other stakeholders – politicians, political parties, the media, the clergy, civil society organisations, voters, and the public – must place their hands firmly on deck to synergise and ensure free, fair and credible general elections in Akwa Ibom State in 2019.

 

CLO wishes to express its profound gratitude to INEC and to all guests and members of the organisation for finding time to grace the seminar.

 

(A cross section of participants)

Signed:

Comrade (Barr.) Christopher Ekpo

(Chairman, Communique Drafting Committee)

 

Comrade (Barr.) David Augustine

(Secretary, Communique Drafting Committee)

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