The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is gearing towards mainstreaming human rights into the electoral processes leading to the 2023 general elections in the country.
This action, according to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu, is in partnership with critical stakeholders and would propagate human rights based approach to the 2023 general elections.
Ojukwu revealed this at a public engagement “Strategic Forum on Integrating Human Rights into the 2023 Electoral Process”, organised by the Commission in Abuja on Friday.
He said that the Commission has set up a platform to convene all actors who have roles to play in the election to adopt human rights based practices in the process, noting that a human rights based approach to the election will conscientise the election management body, political parties, law enforcement and security agencies, media and civil societies to imbibe human rights principles and obligations in the electoral process.
He emphasized that promoting human rights by all actors is crucial for the credibility and overall success of the 2023 elections in Nigeria.
The Strategic Forum, which is a first in the series of multi engagements highlighted the crucial role INEC and security agencies have to play in ensuring the participation of voters and the protection of Votes by the Judiciary.
Speaking at the Strategic Forum, which had Civil Society Organisation as panelists, Ojukwu urged politicians to address the Socio-Economic Rights of the electorates, similarly during campaigns, the electorates should focus on what constitute their rights and its fulfilment from politicians to lead a quality life.
The lack of accountability for crimes of electoral violence leads to impunity by perpetrators was also addressed by the panelists, who advocated that special agencies should be created to deal with electoral offences to serve as deterrent Earlier, Ojukwu noted that voter apathy, a situation where voters display lack of enthusiasm in the election process is a setback to gains of democracy.
He described the retrogressive pattern of low turn out by voters during each election cycle from 2011 to date as a major threat to our democracy.
He said: “Free and fair elections are key elements of democratic expressions and for the enjoyment of human rights. The rights to participate in the governance process, including the right to vote and to stand for elections ,is a key pillar of democracy.”
He said this has informed the Commission and other critical stakeholders to proactively promote increased participation of citizens in the voting process through access to Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC).
The NHRC has unveiled “Mobilising Voters for Election (MOVE”), an initiative aimed at promoting human rights based issue campaigns.
The MOVE project supported by LEDAP and Ford Foundation is aimed at increasing citizen’s participation in the voting process through access to PVC and participation towards achieving a credible election.