By Sageer Kabeer
The United States of America on Sunday cautioned political actors in Nigeria against derogatory remarks, vote buying and hate speeches before and during the 2019 general elections.
A statement from the Information Office, Public Affairs Section of the American Embassy in Abuja, said the US government was perturbed by irregularities and violence during the recently conducted party primaries in the country and noted with particular concern that several women candidates were disenfranchised.
“We urge all involved – political and non-political actors – to refrain from using hate speech and take a firm stance against violence. The 2015 Peace Accords played an important role in that regard and we welcome new efforts towards that end.
“We were gravely concerned over widespread incidents of intimidation, interference and vote-buying during the recent gubernatorial elections.
“We reiterate the importance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it fulfils its constitutional role. INEC must be allowed to operate free from outside pressure and intimidation, and in turn must demonstrate full neutrality and professionalism.
“We wish to draw particular attention to the fundamental role of the security agencies in providing a safe and secure environment for the Nigerian people to exercise their democratic rights.
“It is vital that security agencies act, and are seen to act, in an impartial manner that maintains the high standards of professional conduct.
“We strongly support the principle of media freedom and the vital role the independent media plays in ensuring informed public debate. We also stress the importance of balanced, neutral and non-defamatory coverage,” the statement said