A coalition of Edo professionals under the aegis of Unuedo Renaissance has expressed worry over the alarming rise in incidence of violence ahead of the September 19 gubernatorial election in the state, noting that voters in the state are not timid and will resist attempts by some politicians to subvert the will of the people at the poll.
In a statement, the non-political group of professionals of Edo origin, lamented that the state which enjoyed relative peace and prosperity in the last three and a half years, is on account of the forthcoming election, being steered in the direction of violence, noting: “Well known political thugs and hoodlums who had remained silent this entire period have suddenly found their voices again and their use to intimidate our citizens is most unwelcoming and we condemn it in the strongest terms.”
The group also condemned the attack on the convoy of the Edo State Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Godwin Obaseki as well as the failed takeover of the Edo State Assembly by members of the All Progressives Congress, adding: “We note with dismay and condemn in its entirety the rampant violent activities that the state is witnessing in the build up to the election. The entire state is in a heightened state of insecurity, occasioned by reckless conduct on the part of the supporters of key political actors in the state.
“We have also witnessed the bizarre attempts to turn the State House of Assembly into a battle ground, with the attendant consequence of threatening order and good governance in the state.
“We have seen massive attacks on the homes of our citizens, campaign billboards have wantonly been defaced or destroyed, kidnapping of perceived political opponents for whatever reason, has now reared its head again. Even the Governor’s convoy has not been spared these brazen attacks by hoodlums, and the state is being pushed in the direction of anarchy.”.
The statement further reads: “We have always called for issue-based campaigns and that candidates should run on their records and convince the people about their suitability to lead them. No thuggery, no reckless conduct and no anarchy.
“Elections are designed in a democracy to be used as a peaceful means for the electorate to decide their leaders, and thereafter retain or transfer power peacefully. We find it inexcusable that after over twenty (20) years of the return to democracy in Nigeria, blatant acts of thuggery, voters’ intimidation and total recklessness still attend this process.”
Calling for a peaceful, fair and credible poll, the Edo professionals said: “We use this medium to call on the Presidency, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies including the Police, to ensure that we do not continue to be a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community as a people who cannot manage a process that should usher in peace and trust through the choices we make. If the European Union and the United States of America have raised concerns about the violence in Edo State, we should do no less to ensure that we live up to the expectations of our citizens and the international community.
“We call upon the candidates of the leading parties to understand that they can only govern peacefully if they sow the seeds of peace during this election. Edo State has always been an exemplary state and we must protect our reputation for housing some of the most hardworking citizens of this country. While we also want to assure them that our citizens are not timid and will protect their votes, INEC should encourage voters to guard and protect their votes.
“We challenge them to publicly call their followers to order and to renounce the use of violence in the campaigns and for the security forces to arrest any such deviants.”
“On our part as professionals, we will continue to look out for what is best for our state and it is our intention to invite the key actors to sign a peace accord to guarantee a violence-free election so that no Edo citizen is maimed or loses their life or property on account of their inalienable right to choose their leaders,” it added.