Posted by News Express | 20 August 2020 | 650 times
Amnesty International, AI, yesterday, expressed concerns over the perceived threats to human rights and the ideal electoral process ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
Similarly, the Coalition of Civil Society Groups for Good Governance and Electoral Matters staged a protest in Abuja against the growing threats of violence by political parties ahead of the poll.
This came on a day the All Progressives Congress, APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State, traded tackles over the dispatch of a team of over 50 Police officers, to Okpella community where they are allegedly occupying the private residence of a political appointee of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Meanwhile, Edo State government has dismissed allegations by the factional state chairman of the APC, Col. David Imuse (retd) that the Deputy Governor of the State, Comrade Philip Shaibu, was planning to attack himself and blame the attack on his party.
AI, in a statement, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to weigh in and salvage the situation before it mars the entire election process.
Its Country Director, Osai Ojigho, noted that the laxity of the government and justice system against those encouraging violence at this pre-election period in the state was a signal to what might happen on election day and afterward.
Ojigho said: “The potential turmoil being stirred up by various factions ahead of the gubernatorial election in Edo State should send a clear signal to the Nigerian authorities of the imminent violence ahead of the polls and government must take active steps to prevent a bloody poll.
“Fueling the instability and impunity in the state, are reports of supporters of some politicians violently targeting political opponents, real or perceived.
The authorities must stamp out any potential impunity by ensuring these incidents are investigated and those suspected to be responsible, brought to justice.”
CSOs protest, petition British High Commissioner over violence
Similarly, in Abuja, the protesters, led by its Convener and Co-Covener, Messrs Adamu Matazu, and Danesi Prince, addressed a petition to the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing C.B, urging her to intervene and “help the will of the people to prevail.”
They displayed placards with various inscriptions such as ’INEC, make Edo votes count’, ‘Edo people deserve peace’, ‘We will not sleep until there is peaceful election.’
The protesters lamented that 39 days to the polls, activities of political players have unfortunately heightened security challenges in the state, with women and children particularly affected.
The CSOs stated: “Your Excellency, we request that you prevail on the Federal Government to implement a coherent security strategy to ensure the elections are free, fair and represent the true will of the people.”
The coalition noted that the nation was “beginning to witness an unprecedented level of verbal and physical attacks on the governor of Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, his Deputy, and their supporters. Of particular note was the attack on Governor Obaseki and his campaign entourage by political thugs and hoodlums. It is important to note that this is the third time an attempt would be made to attack or intimidate the Governor and Chief Security Officer of Edo State, whose core mandate, it is to protect the lives and property of residents of the state.”
“It has become a very worrisome situation, especially as the Federal Government’s security operatives look helplessly on at this criminality. The signs are ominous, to say the least.
“We demand that the international community mobilize in numbers election observers; that the federal government assures Edo people, the nation and international community of peace and security in this September 19 election in Edo State. They can start by enforcing seriously, the Inspector General of Police’s order that all arms and ammunition in the hands of unauthorized persons, especially thugs and hoodlums, are mopped up with speed.”
Akoko-Edo monarchs sue for peaceful poll
Also, the campaign of the APC and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu hit Akoko-Edo local government area of the state where the traditional rulers in the area called on all the candidates and their political parties to ensure peace and no violence throughout the period of their campaigns, during and after the election.
In his remarks, the Otaru of Igarra, HRH Oba Adeche Saiki II, said Edo state hasdbeen peaceful and that the political class should ensure that the state remained peaceful just as he said he wished the candidate of the party his heart desires.
“As you go from here, you should drum it on our youths and party faithful to shun violence and thugerry we should all ensure peace.
Speaking on behalf of all traditional rulers in the local government area, chairman of ATC, the Odafe of Enwan Oba P.A.Okara said Ize-Iyamu was like a young man who has washed his hands clean and could eat with elders.
In his remarks, Ize-Iyamu said: “When I was Chief of Staff, I discovered that traditional rulers from Akoko-Edo are always interested in the development of their areas and not personal requests. I promise to continue that development. My SIMPLE agenda is a covenant with the people of Edo State.”
APC alleges Police invasion of Okpella community
On the invasion of Okpella community by policemen, the APC, in a statement by the Chairman of the Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, alleged that the strange development has caused apprehension in the town as residents expressed worry over planned violent intimidation ahead of the September 19 poll.
Mayaki said: “The Police officers were reportedly deployed on the orders of Governor Obaseki and have set camp in the building of one Lukman Akemokue, a political aide and ally of the Deputy Governor, who relocated his mother from the building to make room for the officers.
“Residents of numerous surrounding communities in the area have lamented the Police officers’ night movements, characterized by indiscriminate shootings, shouts of obscenities, and other bizarre acts of intimidation which they claim were aimed at inducing fear ahead of the polls.
“It is important to note that Okpella has recorded large number of movements from the PDP to the APC in the past few weeks, as residents declare their intention to back the bid of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu over failure by the Obaseki-led administration to keep his promises to them after four years.
“Prominent among former members of the PDP who have openly declared support for the APC and Pastor Ize-Iyamu is Prince Kassim Afegbua, a chieftain of the PDP and popular political figure of Okpella, who rejected Governor Godwin Obaseki for drawing revenue from Okpella through its abundant resources but refusing to re-invest in the area to ensure infrastructure development and good standard of living.
“The dispatch of the Police officers has been interpreted as a desperate tactic by the governor and his allies to scare away voters to prevent the anticipated embarrassing defeat expected on the 19th of September.”
APC petition IGP, CP
Also, Mayaki said the APC will do a formal petition to the State Commissioner of Police, CP Johnson Kokumo, and the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Muhammed, to probe the dispatch of the officers to Okpella and why they were occupying the private residence of the governor’s aide.
We didn’t deploy any personnel — Police
But when contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Chidi Nwabuzor, said the police did not deploy any personnel for such alleged illegal duties adding that the Police deploy its personnel to qualified individuals that meet laid down rules and conditions.
Nwabuzor said: “Policemen are given to those who are qualified and have applied for the services. For anybody to now use them for other purposes cannot be true. I consider the allegation false because the police, sent for such assignments, are registered and known, so no policeman will do that when he knows that his posting is documented and is being monitored.”
Policemen in Okpella, Agenebode, Akoko-Edo doing their job —Govt
Also, reacting, the Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the increased police presence noticed in Okpella, Agenebode, Akoko Edo and other parts of the state was not out of the norm.
Osagie, in a statement, said: “With just a month to the gubernatorial poll in Edo State, security agencies are stepping up their activities across the state. This should not be misconstrued by anyone.
”The claims by the APC are strange because anyone who means well for Edo people should commend the police for doing their job. The APC should not fret if they have no sinister plans.”
Govt denies claim of planned attack
Meanwhile, the Edo State government has dismissed allegations by the factional state chairman of the APC, Col. David Imuse (retd) that the Deputy Governor of the state, Comrade Philip Shaibu, was planning to attack himself and blame the attack on his party, APC.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said it was unfortunate and desperate for the APC to descend so low as to make such puerile allegations.
He said: “We are quite perplexed to learn of the laughable allegations by Imuse, who has just found his voice after many months of wandering in the wilderness.
“We condole with him for taking up this very disgraceful assignment given to him by his handlers to make such infantile claims. This is obviously coming after the party’s disgraceful, half-hearted campaign in pockets of communities in the state.
“During this short-lived tour, they got confirmation that their candidate commands negligible following, hence the resort to diversionary approach to a political campaign.
“The claim that the Deputy Governor is plotting to attack himself and blame it on the APC is a fantastic idea that is best left for the movies and theatre houses. It is false and baseless.
“In actual fact, it must be stated clearly that the APC has proven to be the desperate ones in this election. They have resorted to this cheap lie after hurrying over their campaigns and terminating a full month before the elections. One wonders what more tales by moonlight they have up their sleeves in the coming days.” (Vanguard)
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