Worried by the increasing rate of violence arising from the conduct of party primaries ahead the July 22, 2017 Local Government elections in Lagos State, the Chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission ( LASIEC ), Hon. Justice Ayotunde Phillips, has appealed to members of the executive of Inter- Party Advisory Council ( IPAC ) to assist the Commission to end the increasing rate of political violence in the State..
Hon. Justice Phillips made the appeal during a meeting held by the Commission with members of the executive of IPAC at the Commission’s Yaba, Lagos office. The Chairman said she was particularly worried about the growing rate of violence over the conduct of party primaries because it was capable of negatively impacting on the elections if the situation was not quickly checked, adding that one of the staff of the Commission was injured during a fracas that broke out during the conduct of primaries of one of the political parties recently.
The Chairman, who was recently elected as a member of the FIFA Ethics Committee Adjudicatory Chamber where she would represent the African continent, also revealed that the Commission would beef up security at its headquarters to forestall a situation where political thugs would invade the office and turn it into a battlefield between warring factions and groups among the political parties contesting for elective political offices at the Local Government level of the State..
Hon. Justice Phillips stated that the Commission could not interfere in the conduct of primaries of political parties because the law does not empower it to do so..
Responding to the issues raised by the Chairman, Mr. Kola Ajayi, the Chairman of IPAC, blamed the high rate of political violence on lack of internal democracy among the political parties, pointing out the police had an important role to play in checking the incidents of violence..
Mr. Ajayi further pointed out that the Council had anticipated this negative development, adding that this informed the decision of the body to plan for a motorized peace rally to campaign against political violence in the forthcoming elections into the 57 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas of the State..
He added that the Council would have carried out the peace campaign across the State, but was constrained by lack of resources to undertake the campaign, noting that the body had even written a letter to the State Government for support in this regard..
Also speaking at the meeting, the Vice – Chairman of the Council and Chairman of the United Progressives Party ( UPP ) in the State, Mazi Mike Okereke, expressed the view that monetization of politics was responsible for the increasing rate of violence being experienced in the State..
He advised that efforts must be made to calm aggrieved candidates and their supporters so that the crises might not be allowed to degenerate into inter-party crises..
Another member of the Council, Hon. Akinola Obadia, advised the Commission to convene a meeting of political parties after the primaries have been concluded and use the avenue to warn politicians to desist from engaging in political violence in the State..
Also contributing to the discourse, a member of the Commission, Dr. Bunmi Omoseyindemi, emphasized the need for the Commission to make candidates of the various political parties to sign a peace accord to discourage the unnecessary recourse to violence by politicians and their supporters in resolving disputes..