By Eric Elezuo
A group, Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), has called on Edo State politicians to eschew violence as the state prepares for the governorship election coming up on Saturday, September 19, 2020.
The group, which has mobilised about 50 trained and duly accredited observers for the election, made the call through a press statement signed by its coordinator, Tope Shaaba and Spokesperson, Comrade Ayodele Adewale.
CODER, in the statement, acknowledged that there has been unnecessary tension in the state, generated by the election, especially by the two major parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) whose flag bearers are the incumbent governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu respectively, and cautioned against making the pre-election predictions of some groups from coming to past.
“The pre-election analysis undertaken by YIAGA Africa, NOI polls and other CSO groups paints a bleak picture of the election should indicators of violence surveyed remain unaddressed. Physical violence at campaign rallies, vandalism or destruction of property associated with candidates, stock piling of small arms and light weapons and recruitment of armed thugs or militia groups are some of the indicators identified in the pre-election survey,” it said.
While appealing to the feuding parties to sheath their swords for peace sake, the group acknowledged the genuine efforts made by the Oba of Benin to broker peace as well as the position taken by the United States of America and the United Kingdom to checkmate the trend of violence.
“The timely peace intervention of the Oba of Benin on September 3rd, the peace accord signing by candidates of political parties on Tuesday September 14 and the position of the international community, especially the United States and United Kingdom’s Embassies are efforts to checkmate the trend of violence. CODER therefore, appeals to all political actors in Edo, especially the two dominant political parties to let peace and allow Edo people to speak through the ballot.”
CODER therefore, call on security agencies as mobilised, to ensure that peace is maintained through neutrality, and punish offenders irrespective of where they belong. It also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide a level playing for all contestants.
“The Nigerian Police Force and other security personnel on election duty must maintain their neutrality and be ready to arrest anyone that commits electoral offense. INEC on the other hand must be seen to play its role as an unbiased umpire in the entire process to increase people’s confidence and trust in both the electoral process and the electoral management body,” the statement noted.
CODER is a not for profit civil society organisation, founded by Chief Ayo Opadokun.
“We note that Edo gubernatorial off-cycle election and that of Ondo state coming up on October 10 are litmus tests for the general elections in 2023, and as such, all electoral stakeholders must ensure these elections are better and fairer than previous ones,” the statement concluded.