Ahead of the September 10 governorship election in Edo State, security operatives in the State Friday convened a one day security meeting with political stakeholders, during which participants agreed to eschew violence in the course of their electoral campaigns.
Representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Social Democratic Party (SDP)n were present at the meeting.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike, State Director of DSS, Mr. Ibrahim Halilu and their Civil Defence counterpart, Mr. Walter Chiko Akubuiroh in their separate remarks, sued for peace; before, during and after the election.
Ezike noted that the stakeholders meeting was aimed at assessing past electoral challenges, including the use of thugs, illegal firearms and hates, in order to promote a violence-free election.
“You must continue to engage. If you identify the problems, you are halfway to solving the problems. If we have identified electoral violence, we have identified the bracket from where it comes and we have identified that the stakeholders need to be engaged to solve, you will then begin the understand the essence of this meeting.
Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), disclosed that INEC has improved its operations through an upgrade of technology.
This, according to him, includes the use of e-tracking to monitor the polling exercise.
He also said that INEC would begin the distribution of the old Permanent Voters Card soon.
Besides, the participants in a 10 points communique issued after the meeting amongst others commended the initiative of the police commissioner for conceptualizing and organizing the meeting which according to them, could not have come at a better time than now.
While noting that hate speech, thuggery cultism and illegal use of firearms should be avoided, the participants however warned against the misuse of security details assigned to politicians.
And as part of efforts aimed at curbing violence, the participants agreed that applications for political rallies/meetings must be made 48 hours before the date of the occasion.
Meanwhile, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Olumekun, has expressed worries over proliferation of light arms in the state.
Olumekun who described situation as a “disturbing trend,” during a stakeholders’ meeting with security operatives in Benin, blamed desperate politicians for the ugly development.
“In my view, the political class has a very critical roles to play in reducing violence in elections in Nigeria.
“It is who Edo People choose to be Governor that will be the next Governor. Leaders should be build on goodwill of their people to have a just society. Proliferation of small arms is very worrisome,” he said.
Commenting on the issue of security during the election, the State Commissioner of Police, Ezike, assured stakeholders that the “Police are ready to enforce the law and bring perpetrators of election violence to book.”
On his part, the State Director of the Department of State Security (DSS), Mr. Ibrahim Aliu, warned against hate speeches, thuggery and unauthorised use of fire arms and inciting comments by politicians, aspirants seeking elective positions and their supporters.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Edo State REC disclosed that INEC has fixed June 1 to 5, 2016 as the tentative date for the contineous voter registration exercise across the 18 local government area s of the state.
He however clarified that the date was subject to the final approval of the national headquarters of the Commission.
Olumekun who describing “Edo people as sophisticated and well informed,” assured that voters who were registered by the Commission during previous exercise, will get their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) before the forth coming gubernatorial election.
He said the CVR would help to minimise incidences of multiple registration,
In his speech, the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Anselm Ojezua, tasked the various security agencies to “generate sufficient courage” that could help to put electoral violence at bay.
Participants at the meeting who kicked against inconclusive elections, also advised against the misuse of security details assigned to politicians for protection.
Twenty of the 23 registered political parties in the state were represented at the stakeholders’ meeting.