The Federal Government has started a process that will ensure prompt prosecution of those involved in electoral violence, according to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, who made the announcement yesterday. This is ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Malami bemoaned that election-related violence frequently targeted voters, media professionals, and members of civil society organisations in his speech at the 2022 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists opening ceremony.
He said: “We noted, with dismay, reports of attacks on journalists and voters by suspected hoodlums during elections in some parts of the country.
“President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is committed to bringing to an end these undemocratic and uncultured activities through the administration of legally justifiable approaches on the perpetrators to serve as deterrence to others.
“I am pleased to say that the Federal and some State Governments have taken preventive and proactive steps in taming the tides.
“It is imperative to renew our call on those involved in the electioneering process to appreciate that political activities are to be observed in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Law.
“Let us join hands in making sure that all campaign utterances are humane and in conformity with global best practices, thereby contributing to a violence-free electoral process”, Malami stated.
He emphasised that recent national developments showed that the FG has commendable steps to remove impunity for crimes against citizens and that the theme of this year’s commemoration, “Media, Civil Society, and violence-free Election in Nigeria,” is both appropriate and current.
“It is gratifying to note that supporting fair, credible and violence-free electoral process in the country is one of the cardinal themes of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Justice National Policy on Justice 2017.
“The Policy, which is still enforced, was signed on the 20th of September, 2017. It expresses worries about and seeks to address the impunity for crimes regarding some election-related violence and malpractices, especially the failure to hold perpetrators accountable.
“As we approach the 2023 General Elections in the country, the role of journalists in the democratic transition cannot be overemphasised, Malami stressed.
In his remarks, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, repeatedly emphasised the importance of protecting journalists during elections.
Yakubu lamented a recent report that revealed more than 45 journalists were killed worldwide last year. Yakubu was represented by a National Commissioner at INEC, Mr. Mohammed Haruna.
In order to prevent the repression of opposition voices in the upcoming election, he asserted that the government must act swiftly to address some troubling indicators, such as the shutdown of several media outlets in Zamfara State.
In his own words, Mr Femi Adesina, Special Advisor to the President on Media and Publicity, reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to ensuring that the next general elections were free, fair, and credible.
In speeches he gave domestically and abroad, he claimed President Buhari had pledged to ensure the electorate’s will prevailed. As a result, he claimed, he was determined to use technology to conduct the elections in 2023.