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Baroness Cox, Lord Alton, PSJ UK and CSI call on the Nigerian Government to Prevent Violence and Uphold the Democratic Process in the Coming Election


Nigeria’s Presidential and National Assembly elections take place on Saturday, 25th

February, closely followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections on the

11th of March 2023. We, the undersigned civil society organisations and friends of

Nigeria, affirm our strong support for free, fair, and peaceful elections. As partners

and friends of Nigeria, we have been following the campaigns and election process

closely. Together we remain committed in our support of Nigeria’s democracy in the

hope that it will eventually produce the leadership the people of Nigeria deserve and

crave. Progress has undoubtedly been made to secure democracy in Nigeria since 1999,

when the military returned power to civil governance. Yet these elections will provide

Nigeria a unique opportunity to further consolidate this progress, entrench the

democratic accountability of the state, and align itself with international norms to send

the world a clear message that Nigeria is open for business.


Existential consequences

As the elections draw closer, we’re becoming increasingly concerned by multiple news

reports telling us more and more disturbing incidents of pre-election violence, hate

speech, various forms of intimidation, Permanent Voter Card (PVC) buying, general

vote-buying, and election interference. It is important to stress that poor management

of the upcoming elections will have serious existential consequences for Nigeria, with

the implications likely to extend and destabilise West Africa as a whole. It is no

exaggeration to highlight that Nigeria is indeed on the brink of collapse, such

conclusions are laid out in the International Organisation for Peacebuilding and Social

Justice’s (PSJ UK) recent report. Unlike past elections when the Nigerian electorate

were disillusioned and apathetic, this year disenfranchised youths and women are

mobilising towards active participation. There are innumerable factors that threaten

democracy and the 2023 elections in Nigeria – from all those we have focused on, what

we believe to be the elephant in the room? Insecurity.


An epidemic of insecurity & its impact on the INEC

In October 2022, Western embassies in Nigeria, led by the United States and the

British High Commission, issued an alert about the elevated risk of terror attacks

against a wide range of targets in Abuja, the capital city. Perhaps more than any other

factor, providing a safe and secure environment for the electorate should be

paramount ahead of this election. The nation is currently engulfed in an epidemic of

insecurity. It ranges from Islamist jihadists in the north to different separatist

agitators in the South-East and South-West, and to criminal banditry all over the

country; no geopolitical zone in Nigeria has been spared. Since the return to

democratic governance in 1999, Nigeria has experienced rising levels of insecurity –

higher each year. Data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

(ACLED) states that records of political violence and conflict during 2022 were due to

surpass the alarming astronomical figures of the year before. The Rt Hon Andrew

Mitchell, Minister of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office

also confirmed that 2022 is one of the worst years on record for political violence and

conflict in Nigeria.


In the month of December 2022, there were at least 52 cases of electoral violence

across 22 states, including the politically motivated assassination of candidates. In

January alone, the Nigerian Elections Violence tracker has reported 130 violent events

and at least 200 fatalities linked to politics. Since the last election four years ago, the

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has recorded 50 attacks on its

facilities across 15 States. Separatist agitators have attacked electoral offices, killed

voters and election officials, and destroyed election materials. The INEC has also

raised the alarm that some politicians have been buying up PVCs and financially

inducing unsuspecting voters to harvest their Voter Identification Numbers (VIN)

ahead of the 2023 general elections. Two individuals were recently convicted for

illegal possession of PVCs in Sokoto and Kano State, however, the security forces have

yet to expose the real sponsors behind the criminality.


We declare as follows:

We note that all leading parties have subscribed to the 2023 Peace Accords, under the

chairmanship of former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar. Despite the

Peace Accord, inflammatory rhetoric by political leaders has been on the rise, fanning

the embers of conflict. Therefore, we urge both political and non-political actors to

renounce hate speech and take a definitive stand against all forms of violence. We

reiterate the importance of the INEC, and we call on them to further demonstrate full

neutrality and professionalism. We call on the Nigerian people to seriously consider

the colossal and undesirable consequences of a failed or even an inconclusive election.

And we call on the Nigerian government:

a) To deploy extra security efforts to ensure the safety of life, property, INEC

officials, and electoral materials. This includes ensuring that security agents not

only act but are seen to act as impartial providers of a conducive and safe

environment while maintaining high standards of professional conduct

b) To ensure that voters are not intimidated nor cajoled with monetary or material

inducement by politicians or political parties

c) To monitor human and institutional drivers of insecurity more rigorously, deal

decisively with law breakers, and step-up counter-terrorism efforts

d) To resist the temptation of interfering in the election process and to respect the

will and choice of the people after the election


Lastly, we call on the United Kingdom, other governments, and international bodies

to condemn in the strongest terms political actors involved in acts of violence; and for

them to galvanize efforts to support the Nigerian state to monitor, call out, and

prosecute under international law perpetrators who use violence to influence

elections. We welcome all efforts towards a peaceful election.



Baroness Cox of Queensbury

Independent Member of the House of Lords, U.K.

Lord Alton of Liverpool

Independent Member of the House of Lords, U.K.

John Eibner

International Director, Christian Solidarity International (CSI)

Ayo Adedoyin

CEO, International Organisation for Peacebuilding and Social Justice (PSJ UK)


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