Preventing and Responding to Election Violence -- ND PSWG Communique

Niger Delta Peace & Security Working Group Communique

Forum on Stakeholder Responsibilities during the 2015 Elections

Issued: January 27, 2015

The Niger Delta Peace and Security Working Group (NDPSWG) – a coalition of about 40 civil society organizations working in and around the nine Niger Delta states held a one-day Forum on Stakeholder Responsibilities during the 2015 general elections in Nigeria on January 27, 2015 at the Golden Tulip Hotel, 1C, Evo Crescent, G.R.A Phase 2, Port Harcourt. At the end of the Forum, the participants issued this communiqué:

After reviewing the 2011 elections, Participants noted that the violence experienced in 2011 was post-election and that there is the need to put measures in place to prevent a re-occurrence. They called on all stakeholders especially youths not to allow themselves to used to perpetrate violence during the 2015 elections. They noted that if the measures put in place do not totally forestall violence in 2015, then adequate proactive response mechanisms must be put in place to minimize unnecessary loss of lives and property and provide remedy for the wounded and traumatized especially the marginalized and vulnerable.

Participants pointed out that as it was in 2011, the early warnings signs were very visible but that responses were reactionary, poor, ineffective and limited. And in 2015, the early warning signs are ominous and the Peace Accord signed by the Presidential candidates of the parties must be enforced. They commended the move by the initiators of the peace accord to put measures in place to ensure compliance. Participants called on the relevant government agencies to put measures in place to prevent the outbreak of violence during elections. They suggested the need for the government to revisit the Justice Uwais Panel report on elections in Nigeria and explore the potentials of implementing some of the recommendations especially the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission.

Participants observed the dearth of adequate response mechanisms for the wounded in case of mass violence and called on the authorities to support and encourage the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) with adequate logistics to be able to play this role since the corps has shown that it is capable in responding to such complex emergencies and to minimize the pressure faced by the police. Participants called on INEC, NEMA, NOA and other relevant agencies to establish and educate the public on who and what agencies to contact in the case of emergencies during elections since movement is restricted during the period, and many lives have been lost due to delays in responding to these emergency situations.

Participants called for the establishment of Emergency Health Response Teams (EHRT) as was the case during the Ebola outbreak to help manage those that may be wounded during elections in the case of the outbreak of violence. They decried instances of insufficient preparation and response by public and private emergency medical service providers in the area of staffing, establishment of treatment centers, supplies and ambulance services.

Participants observed that in previous elections where there have been violence, female voters, female election observers, female electoral officials, and female candidates and party officials have been targeted through rape, sexual harassment and intimidation. They called on law enforcement agencies to put in place measures to protect women during elections especially in the case of the outbreak of election violence. Participants called on politicians and their supporters to minimize hate speech, inflammatory and inciting statements that motivate violence and hate and to focus on issues of good governance, development and sustainable peace.

Specific findings include:

1. There is the need to build the capacity of government institutions to manage violence during and after the elections.

2. Call on governments, both federal and state, to employ resources in a non-partisan manner and avoid abuse of state resources for party interests.

3. Given the inadequacy of security in terms of numbers, efforts should be made to effectively deploy the few numbers to hotspots.

4. The peace accord signed by candidates should be cascaded down to their supporters.

5. The security of women should be brought to the forefront via developing security protocols, instituting community-based security arrangements, and creating situation rooms for reporting threats and seeking advice and redress.

6. NGOs can use their media and other election programs to sensitize women on security issues.

7. There is a need to set-up emergency health units to attend to victims of election violence. NGO networks could be used to ensure adequate supplies of blood and other items for the units.

8. All relevant groups – youth, organizations, governmental and non-governmental – should be adequately sensitized against election violence.

9. There is a need for value re-orientation. The poverty of today, is the poverty of the mind. Poverty and unemployment can no longer be accepted as an excuse for violence.

10. Encourage a network of security agencies, chamber of commerce, and trade unions, etc. to form a security task force for the elections.

11. The media should rise above partisanship to responsive journalism that will promote sustainable democracy. Media owners should provide security for their safety of journalists covering elections.

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