The European Union Delegation to Nigeria and the United States of America has called on Nigeria’s security agencies to avoid actions that could jeopardise the success of next year’s general election.The warning came as campaigns for the polls officially began yesterday.
“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,” said a joint statement issued in Abuja yesterday.
The Delegation and the United States said they are “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”. They also expressed desire for “greater participation of women, youth and people living with disabilities.”
The statement was jointly signed by various countries with missions in Nigeria including, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia and Austria. Others are: Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
“We reiterate the importance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it fulfills 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.” The statement added.