From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia
A former State President, Conference of Heads of Service, Abia State, Prince Okenwa Ichie, has advocated for constitutional and legal reforms that would lessen political monopolization of resources as a means of entrenching peaceful elections in the country.
Presenting a keynote address during a one day sensitization programme on curbing post-election violence by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Abia State, Ichie said that a judicial system that was subservient to the political class was detrimental to socio-political harmony and justice anywhere in the world.
The theme of the gathering was “Building a People of Peace by Curbing Post Election Violence, Promoting Peaceful Coexistence, National Unity And Patriotism.”
“A judicial system that is subservient to the political class is detrimental to socio-political harmony and justice anywhere in the world. This assault on our collective value has permeated the legal structure of the nation, allowing series of corruption and abuse of power to blossom in governance,” he remarked.
He was of the opinion that “a virile and independent judicial system that will enthrone enduring democratic values would be a delight to behold and foster the development of non-violent culture in our electoral affairs is cardinal.”
One of the ways to build peace, according to Ichie, was to reduce the allure of political power and make political office less of an avenue for wealth accumulation, as well as criminalizing “inflammatory rhetoric, hate speech, intimidation, vote buying, rigging of election.”
Earlier in a welcome address, the Abia State Director of NOA, Lady Ngozi Okechukwu, said the forum was aimed at dousing political tensions after the just concluded general elections.
“The aim of this campaign is to curb post-election violence, promote discipline, unity and patriotism in our country. It is envisaged that the tensions generated by political players in the just concluded elections might lead to escalation of violence in many communities, following threats of violence arising from agitations over political and economic exclusions and heightening political tension,” the NOA Director said.
She advised political leaders to embark on reconciliatory moves in communities where were violence occurred during the elections. She also called on those who won to be magnanimous in victory while those who believed they were “rigged out”, should not resort to violence but to seek redress as provided by law.
She pointed out that the programme was designed to also engender peace building platforms to mobilize the citizenry to embrace dialogue as a more effective way to resolve crisis and differences, as well as harness other peace-building mechanisms to promote dialogue.
According to her, peace was a vital precondition for achieving national development, adding that NOA would work with all stakeholders in various communities and different strata of society to enhance the quest for peace.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Ike Onyenweaku, harped on the need to support any candidate that emerged victorious at the polls, instead of distracting him with series of litigation.
Meanwhile, participants that attended the sensitization including traditional institutions, business class, civil society organizations, amongst others, appealed to all those involved in the electoral processes to always abide by the rules of the game in order to curb both pre-election and post-election violence in future elections.