Obansa Ibrahim, Lokoja
The TAF-Africa on Sunday tasked Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security operatives on checkmating PWD voter inducement and violence at polling units during elections in Nigeria.
“This call became imperative following the inducement and pockets of violence that occured Saturday’s off-cycle governorship election in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States, which put PWDs voters at risk, ” Mr Jake Epelle, TAF Africa Founder said.
Epelle made the call while addressing a post election news conference at Edge Drive Hotel, Lokoja, Kogi on Sunday.
“TAF Africa notes with concern the recorded incident of PWD voter inducement in the off-cycle election especially, in St. Luke Sec school, Lokoja, and Agudama Epie polling unit, Epie ward 1, Yenagoa LGA of Bayelsa state, some party agents engaged in vote buying, thereby causing chaos and disorderliness in the polling units.
“This challenges the integrity of the electoral process and emphasizes the need for heightened vigilance and enforcement of electoral laws to maintain a free and fair electoral environment in Nigeria in the future
“Also, a critical incident occurred in Dimoma Hall Amambaa polling unit, Ikeduru LGA, in Imo state, where gunmen dispersed voters and put PWDs voters at risk.
“TAF Africa condemns any form of violence that disrupts the democratic process, and we call on security agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident and take necessary actions to ensure the confidence, safety, and security of voters in subsequent elections, ” he said.
The Founder, through a Board member, Hajiya Zainab Usman-Suleiman, called for enhanced security measures in future to prevent and respond swiftly to incidents that threaten the safety of voters.
He also called on political parties and relevant authorities to enforce strict penalties for voter inducement and thuggery during elections.
According to him, this will help maintain the integrity of the electoral process and foster a transparent and accountable political environment.
Epelle advocated for continuous collaboration and engagement between INEC, political parties, security agencies, PWDs, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), to help facilitate the identification and resolution of challenges, promoting a more inclusive and accessible electoral process.
While urging INEC to provide more data on registered PWDs voters for expansion of its monitoring of voting points during election, Epelle
called for a standardized protocol for the adequate deployment of assistive tools, ensuring equitable distribution across all states and polling units with registered persons with disabilities during elections.