To tackle the problems of violence before, during and after elections in the country, the Federal Government on Wednesday announced that it will soon establish a Special Election Tribunal that will ensure that those involved in such activities are speedily brought to justice.
Labaran Maku, the Minister of Information announced this in Abuja after what was unarguably the longest meeting of Federal Executive Council, FEC early this evening.
The decision to establish the Tribunal, he said was based on the recommendations contained in the white paper of committee headed by the Minister of Lands and Housing, Mrs. Ama Pepple on the report of the Sheik Ahmed Lemu Committee set up to investigate the violence that followed the 2011 general elections in some parts of the country.
Maku added that the white paper contained extensive recommendations, cutting across the security services, behaviour of security men during elections and other issues which are aimed at preventing the kind of violence witnessed after the 2011 general elections in the future.
He added that the establishment of the Tribunal, which is one of the recommendations contained in the report will ensure that people involved in electoral violence are brought to justice and speedily too. He also said another recommendation contained in the white paper approved by government is the proscription of all specialised youths groups set up by politicians who act as thugs during elections.
The Minister said a look at the circumstances of violence that followed the 2011 elections revealed that office seekers keep specialised youth groups that run like militias during election campaigns. He said the youth groups are most times involved in the escalation of electoral violence or create other insecurity problems for the country. Maku said the government has therefore directed the Attorney General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police to proscribe all youth groups that are set up specifically to be used as thugs during elections.
The minister of Information also said government accepted the Committee’s recommendations that there should be intensive civic education by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on democracy, the content of the electoral act, the responsibility of the citizens and the right conduct that will promote real civil democracy.
Mrs. Pepple added that the Lemu Committee recommended that the issue of job creation and youth development should be addressed. This, she said the Federal Government is doing through various youth programmes.She also said government has agreed that investigations of those accused of being involved in past acts of violence during elections should continue to discourage the culture of impunity. She added that government has also accepted recommendation that a mobile police barrack should be established in areas between Kafanchan and Zonkwa in Kaduna State which have been found to be prone to violence.
Government, she added has also taken decision to control proliferation of small arms in the country. Pepple added that valuation of losses sustained by individuals and organisations across the states involved in violence during the last election is ongoing and at the end of it, government will determine the kind of assistance it will render to those involved.Meanwhile, the President has appointed Alhaji Inuwa Abukadir who was sworn in just before the beginning of FEC meeting today as the minister of Youth Development. Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi is now the Minister of Sports.