The United States has urged the federal government to establish an electoral offences tribunal before the 2015 general elections that would serve as deterrent to election violence.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said this on Monday in Abuja at the third meeting of the Nigeria-U.S. Bi-National Commission.
The meeting seeks to promote good governance, transparency and integrity.
Thomas-Greenfield, who led a 23-man team to the meeting called on the National Assembly to pass a legislation that will establish an electoral offences tribunal, a legislation that President Goodluck Jonathan proposed when he was Vice President.
She commended the conduct of the Nigeria police and security operatives at the November 16 gubernatorial elections in Anambra and expressed the confidence that come 2015, elections in every polling unit in the country will be safe.
“We have confidence that if the Nigerian Police, the military and other security services are allowed to do their jobs professionally as they did in Anambra, elections can be held safely in Ekiti and Osun this year. We hope that our continued electoral assistance will give the utmost support to the Nigerian people because they deserve nothing less than elections that reflect their will,” she added.
The U.S. assistant secretary also urged the Nigerian electorate to vote according to their conscience and to hold politicians, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the media, judiciary and security agencies accountable for free and fair elections.
She disclosed that in the run-up to Nigeria’s 2011 elections, the U.S. and UK contributed 31.3 million dollars to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral management body and civil society groups.
In his remarks, the permanent secretary, ministry of foreign affairs, Martin Uhomoibhi, who leads the Nigerian team at the meeting, said the federal government had consistently advocated for peaceful and credible elections, devoid of violence, adding that Nigeria would continue to play a leading role in the consolidation of democracy on the continent, citing interventions in Guinea Bissau, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire.
Nigeria has 68 delegates drawn from government, media and civil society groups participating in the two-day meeting.
A communiqué is expected at the end of the meeting on Tuesday.
The bilateral commission was established in 2010 to address a range of shared concerns by both countries, including regional cooperation, security and counter -terrorism, Niger Delta, energy and investment.
It also has a working group dedicated to agriculture and trade policy.