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2023: NGE urges INEC to conduct free and fair polls

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct credible elections on February 25 and March 11, as it had promised.

This was contained in a communiqué by its President, Mustapha Isah, and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, at the end of a meeting of its Standing Committee in Abeokuta, the Ogun State.

The guild also urged security agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for February 25, and the governorship/states’ Houses of Assembly polls, slated for March 11, turn out successful.

“Nigerians desire that their votes will count and we’re expectant of free, fair and credible elections devoid of violence.

“We call on the INEC to make good its promise of early deployment of electoral materials to polling units on Election Days and ensure its personnel, in their conduct, do not deviate from provisions of the Electoral Act and other laws guiding the elections.

“The NGE notes that all eyes will be on the operation of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and urges the electoral body to ensure that the devices are in top shape, to perform optimally and actualise the intended purpose of their introduction during the elections,” the statement said.

The NGE stressed the important role of security agencies in achieving free, fair and credible elections, while urging the security agencies to be unbiased and ensure that voters are able to exercise their franchise freely in a peaceful atmosphere devoid of intimidation.

The guild also expressed concerns over the activities of some political parties since the commencement of the ongoing campaigns, while advising the political parties and their candidates to play by the rules and impress on their supporters the need to avoid violence before, during and after the polls.

“We call on politicians to let their party manifestos and campaign promises guide the electorate in making their choices, and to avoid inducing voters through vote buying.

“The guild calls on the electorate to come out to perform their civic rights by speaking with their votes on election days and to avoid voter apathy,” the communiqué added.

The NGE, while observing that the media have a role to play in ensuring free and fair elections, urged them to be professional in their reportage and ensure proper fact-checking before publication of reports.

The editors also urged all stakeholders, including civil society organisations (CSOs), local and international election monitors/observers, to play their roles within the ambit of the law by ensuring that the nation conducts another successful general election and transition.

They also noted the current challenges over the cashless policy and advised the government, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to address all challenges capable of affecting the conduct of the general elections.

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