The United Kingdom said Thursday it is concerned about voter suppression and post election violence in the Nigerian election.
“What we are probably most worried about is voter suppression, trying to prevent people from actually going out to exercise their votes. Perhaps the thing we are most worried about is post-election violence as we saw when Jonathan took over…,” British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing said.
Addressing the press at her residence in Abuja, she stated the need for leaders of various political parties to dissuade their supporters from such violence, adding that if any of the supporters feel the election was stolen and their candidate should have won, there is a risk of violence.
“It is really important for Nigeria’s democracy that people respect the results… and if you feel for any reason the election in your area was not credible or transparent, there is a process and that is the court,” she said.
Emphasising the powers of the courts, Ms Laing noted the need for judges to not be put under pressure, to act impartially and to look objectively at the evidence and rule in accordance with the rule of law.
“The judges must be seen to be acting fairly and impartially,” she added.
The absolute foundation of democracy is the rule of law and the rule of law gives people confidence, Ms Laing said.
In spite of these concerns, she said the UK is very confident that Nigeria’s electoral commission, INEC, and the security agencies are well prepared for the elections.
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“Nigeria should be very proud as it has stuck with democracy since 1999. This is an achievement that should not be underestimated considering the region you are in, with many countries experiencing coups, presidents refusing to step down…,” she said.
There are 14 candidates contesting in the Nigerian presidential election with four considered frontline presidential candidates. The four frontline candidates are Bola Tinubu of the APC, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP.
The West African country will hold its presidential election on 25 February and state elections on 11 March.
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