Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau State says the sustained conflict prevention and resolution efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the State owned Peace Building Agency are a way out of election-related violence in the West African region.

Addressing participants at a training workshop on the "Use of Dialogue and Mediation as Tools for Preventing and/or Mitigating Election-Related Disputes and Violence," Gov. Lalong regretted that the African subregion is gradually competing with the East African region in election violence.

"This is not a good testimony," he said through the State Commissioner of Lands, Survey and Town Planning, Barr. Festus Fwanter.

The Governor blamed politicians whom he regarded as 'beneficiaries' for every dispute during elections, lauding the workshop by ECOWAS which brought together actors in the political scene and other stakeholders to discuss ways out of the situation.

The program was borne out of concerns that electoral disputes are a major source of conflicts in the West African region, Head of Media Facilitation, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Mr. Ebeneezer Asiedu explained.

The program designed by the Commission as part of its 'comprehensive' support to ECOWAS Member states aims to enhance the skills of key stakeholders in mitigating the impacts of violence during elections, Mr. Asiedu said.

The ECOWAS official who disclosed that similar fora have been held in other countries like Sierra Leone, Mali and Guinea Bisau said available data places Nigeria "very high" on the list of countries at the risk of election violence.

"Reports and data from the ECOWAS Early Warning and Response (ECOWARN) and other open sources, which increasingly indicate potentials for electoral violence rank Nigeria very high on political risk rating," he said.

The body according to him therefore plans to hold the workshop in all the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The ultimate goal which is to achieve peace, Mr. Joseph Lengman, the Director General, Plateau State Peace Building Agency said would enhance democracy.

Also lauding the commission's efforts, Mr. Lengman said the agency which was set up to harness cooperative efforts towards preventing violent conflicts prioritizes mediations towards enhancing peace during elections.

To further attain and sustain peace however, Nigeria's laws must be strengthened and made active enough to punish all those found guilty of causing violent conflicts in any part of the country, the State Commissioner of Science and Technology, Dan Manjang said at the workshop.

The Plateau State Electoral Commission's Head of Operations, Mr. Patrick Mangi also at the gathering said violence occurs during elections when actors "decide to shift posts," suggesting punitive steps at addressing the issues.

The workshop organized by the ECOWAS Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution is expected to last four days beginning Tuesday.