Ahead of the Edo State governorship election slated for September 19, a civil society organisation, YIAGA Africa, has expressed fear that violence and insecurity in the pre-election period in the state may discourage voters from turning up to vote on election day.
A member of Board of YIAGA Africa, Ezenwa Nwagwu, raised the alarm yesterday during the YIAGA Africa’s first pre-election press conference held in Abuja.
He said YIAGA Africa has deployed 24 long-term observers throughout Edo State to observe and gath-er information on the pre-election environment and to monitor government’s responses to COVID-19 in each of the 18 local government areas of the state.
The group noted that the two dominant political parties in the race were the main cause of all the pre-election violence.
He added that the PDP for instance, at a rally in Alana community in Etsako West LGA, clashed with APC supporters which led to violent attacks and vandalism.
He further stated that 13 out of 18 local government areas are considered as potential hotspots and flashpoints of violence.
In his recommendations, the executive director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, asked INEC to curtail the proliferation and use of firearms and other weapons and ensure appropriate sanctions for those implicated in thuggery and violence.
He said the political parties and candidates should conduct issue-based campaigns rather than engage in voter inducement and recruitment of thugs and cultists for violence.
He called on INEC to collaborate with other stakeholders like the National Peace Committee, tradition-al/religious institutions, security agencies, media and CSOs to de-escalate the rising political tension and violence by signing a peace accord.
Similarly, a Nollywood star and Ambassador for women’s empowerment in Nigeria, Ini Edo, has also expressed concern about the challenges hindering women participation in democracy and electoral process.
She solicited support for increased participation of women in electoral and democratic processes.