Public trust in INEC is essential-U. S institute.

The US Institute of Peace (USIP) has encouraged INEC to hold a free, fair, and credible election on February 3 to maintain public faith.

In a Thursday interview with journalists in Abuja, Institute Country Director Chris Kwaja mentioned this.

Kwaja said INEC must maintain public faith in elections.
“People are anxious about election outcomes due to the way INEC organised various elections.

“The high number of petitions in 2023 reflected concerns raised by individuals seeking justice from courts.Now INEC must ensure these elections are conducted properly.

“In terms of ad hoc staff recruitment, strategic contacts with citizens, and election transparency and results,” he stated. Kwaja stated that only legitimate elections produce credible leaders.

He said fewer complaints would result when citizens were satisfied with an open and credible electoral process.

He said complaints caused stress, which led to election-related violence across the country.
Kwaja urged INEC to provide a credible by-election and re-run to reduce electoral violence.

He urged INEC to engage with security services to protect election officials. He stated that the commission might operate under the jurisdiction of the inter-agencies consultative forum on election security under its former chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to achieve this.

‘’ The committee has been fairly active in working with security forces and the general population towards the conduct and guarantee of credible elections in Nigeria.

Civil society must actively engage INEC, people, and security forces to address important challenges.This ensures they monitor the process and highlight issues.
“And to ensure that any agencies that have the responsibility to act on an identified concern do that,” he said.

The country director stated security forces must ensure public safety during elections without military force. He said the military should recognise its limits in elections since they are civil concerns and the police and civil defence are more active and relevant.

In cases of significant insecurity, he warned, the military will have to take over. Except in difficult situations, he stressed, this should be done in the context of providing military aid to civil authorities through non-kinetic support.

“That is when you need the military to offer extra protection to ensure credible elections without intimidation or threat,” he said. Kwaja urged the international community to advise and assist relevant agencies.
This should not interfere with elections, he stressed.

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