The Rufus Ebegba Center for Leadership and Environmental Sustainability (REC) has called on the general public and political candidates contesting in the 2023 general election to foster an enabling environment to ensure a peaceful, free and fair election.
In a press statement made available to journalists, the founder of the centre, Dr. Rufus Ebegba said both candidates and the electorate needed to ensure that the electoral process is peaceful and violence-free to ensure a proper democratic transition process.
“Civic space, public participation, fundamental freedoms and a violence-free environment are critical to foster inclusive engagement in the electoral process and the exercise of political rights. The use of abusive language and disrespect for opponents’ views should be avoided.”
Ebegba said it was key for Nigerians to reject violence, as political tensions during the campaign and hate speeches by candidates and their supporters have a dangerous potential to ignite flames of violence.
He urged all parties to uphold the right to political participation, freedom of assembly, opinion and expression and to respect the role of an independent electoral body.
“All those involved in the electoral process must commit themselves to peaceful conduct prior, during and after elections. Candidates and political parties must refrain from using inflammatory language which may lead to violence and human rights abuses.
“Successful elections are key to mitigating the security challenges and other economic malaise bedevilling the country.
“I urge all leaders and candidates to make it clear to their supporters that violence has no place in democratic elections. They should not incite, support or engage in any kind of violence before, during, or after the votes are counted.”
In a statement signed by Ruth Kelvin, Ebegba called on Nigerians to express their views peacefully and reject the voices of those who call for violence. He said all citizens are responsible for ensuring free and fair elections, irrespective of who wins.