IG Warns over Arming of Thugs in Edo, Ondo

IG Warns over Arming of Thugs in Edo, Ondo

…As APC, PDP Finger the Other in Looming Violence The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has warned politicians over the ongoing arming and movement of thugs in preparation for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, even as the two leading political parties – All Progressive Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP)

…As APC, PDP Finger the Other in Looming Violence

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has warned politicians over the ongoing arming and movement of thugs in preparation for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, even as the two leading political parties – All Progressive Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) point accusing finger against the other for fomenting violence..

Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba in a statement said, “The IGP gave the warning having reviewed the Election Security Threat Assessment Reports submitted by the Commissioners of Police from both states in a meeting held Tuesday, 25th August 2020.

He said, “The Election Security Threat Analysis reveals amongst other indicators: arming and movement of political thugs, use of inciting statements during political campaigns, high likelihood of violence and possible cross attack by political opponents.

Others are ‘misinformation/disinformation aimed at heating-up of the polity and deliberate efforts at delegitimizing government institutions involved in the electoral processes.

“The IGP has therefore ordered the Commissioners of Police in the two states – Edo and Ondo – to rejig their preparations for the elections to accommodate and address the threats and emerging trends as contained in the security report,” the statement said, adding that “The Force leadership is evolving customized security architecture to protect the people and ensure hitch-free elections.”

Continuing, the statement said, “The IGP, however, warns politicians and their supporters in Edo and Ondo that the Force will not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on anyone or group, irrespective of status that may want to sabotage the security arrangement being emplaced for the elections.

“Meanwhile, the IGP assures Nigerians, particularly the people of Edo and Ondo States that the Force remains committed to protecting the sanctity of the ballot in the country.

“He reiterates that the Police will be neutral, apolitical and will work assiduously with all stakeholders in ensuring a level playing ground for all in the elections.”

However, Chairman, Edo 2020 Campaign Council of the PDP, Mr Dan Orbih says the only interest of his party is the conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent elections in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a statement in Benin on Saturday, Orbih said the campaign council would not be dragged into the narrative in the social and conventional media dwelling on the appointment of a Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state by INEC.

He said: “The Campaign Council of Edo PDP recognises that INEC as an independent body and reserves the right to appoint officials who have been cleared by the National Assembly to conduct elections in various states.

“As the commission responsible for election management, INEC will take responsibility for successes of elections and of course its failures.

“Expectedly, we are watching with keen interest, steps that are taken by INEC in preparation for the election.

“The election is just a few weeks away and our candidate has been received with enthusiasm in all the 126 wards so far visited.

“In all stops, he has preached non violence, compliance with COVID-19 regulations and of course, his achievements and further development strides.

“Edo people must not be scared or intimidated by the narrative of violence.

“We hereby encourage all Edo people to come out enmass to vote for Governor Godwin Obaseki and PDP on the election day, September 19.”

Speaking further, Orbih called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr Adamu, to ensure that enough policemen were deployed to the state to protect voters from unnecessary harassment by agents of any political party.

The campaign council chairman noted that democracy would be deepened if voters were allowed to exercise their rights and franchise.

He said unleashing violence on the electorate would not save any situation, adding that the various political actors should show the people their report cards and what they would do for the people.

Orbih also noted that since the ward-to-ward campaign tour of the party, the PDP had continued to harvest defectors across the 126 wards so far visited.

He explained that the defectors were attracted by what the PDP candidate had done in the state.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it also believes in free and fair election, but alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is bent on perpetrating violence ahead of the Edo governorship election.

It’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena said that PDP in Edo is allegedly not campaigning for votes but relying on brute force, violence and intimidation of APC members.

“They are already importing militants from Rivers State and we have started seeing the result.

“But we in the APC, we believe in free and fair election; one man one vote. And we want the people to know that,” the APC said.

But reacting, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the waves of violence in the state were as a result of the APC immediate past national chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole’s desperation to win the state for his “political son” and candidate of the party, Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

“If we are the cause of violent attacks in Edo, we would not come out before Nigerians to condemn it and demand arrest of those involved.

Ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, leading global rights movement, Amnesty International (AI) has raised an alarm over looming violence especially due to the actions and utterances of the political parties and politicians.

The organisation’s country director, Osai Ojigho, said on Wednesday in a statement that the Nigerian authorities must fulfil their obligation to promote, protect, respect and fulfil human rights amidst disturbing signs of violence ahead of the election.

According to him, AI has received disturbing reports of violence by the political class and the unfortunate use of young people to perpetuate the reprehensible acts.

“Government must protect people from violence and ensure the full respect for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association before, during and after the state’s upcoming gubernatorial election and subsequent elections in other states of the federation.

“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,” Ojigho said.

While Amnesty closely monitors happenings in Edo State, Ojigho said political parties and candidates must publicly condemn any advocacy of hatred or incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

“The authorities must put measures in place to ensure politicians and their supporters do not infringe on human rights. They must announce clearly that there is zero-tolerance for human rights violations and that anyone suspected of wrongdoing will be brought to justice,” he added.

Meanwhile, INEC has warned that the fierce political tension brewing in Edo State ahead of the September 19 governorship poll may lead to a declaration of a state of emergency in the state, if not carefully managed.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, gave the warning in an interaction with heads of media organisations in Benin.

Okoye said the commission was ready for the Edo election but pleaded with leaderships of the political parties and their supporters to sheath their swords and maintain the peace for a hitch-free poll.

He warned the contestants to conduct their campaigns within the ambit of the law.

According to him, the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic has created an unusual electoral atmosphere never experienced before.

“We are aware that INEC has never conducted elections under a pandemic situation.

“Therefore, this pandemic will make us evolve new strategies for electoral officials, adhoc staff, security agencies, voters and stakeholders.

“We don’t want anybody to jeopardise their health during the exercise and the commission will continue to fine tune the electoral process within the ambit of the Constitution.

“We have advised political parties not to play with end-of-tenure elections because anything that disturbs election from being conducted and concluded on or before November 10 will create constitutional crisis that may lead to a state of emergency,” Okoye said.

He said that should INEC be confronted with such a scenario, it could only be remedied in accordance with either Section 180, 191 or 305.

“This will warrant the incumbent Governor to seek President Muhammadu Buhari’s permission to declare a state of emergency in the state.

“My advice to all the political gladiators is that they should play by the rules of the game to avoid constitutional crisis arising from the election,” Okoye said.

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