October 24, 2019

Bayelsa Decides: Group warns against violence, hate speech


…urges parties to abide by peace accord

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State, a non-profit making organization, Bayelsa Peace Initiative, BAPI, Thursday, warned against violence and use of hate speech by political parties and their supporters during this period of the campaign.

The Coordinator, BAPI, Bennett Ghomorai, gave the warning while expressing concern about the aggressive and hostile attitudes of political parties and their supporters in canvassing for votes as they move from place to place to convince the electorates.

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Ghomorai said the leaders of political parties are to be careful with their body language and utterances that could trigger avoidable and unnecessary violence that might engulf the state and jeopardize democracy in the state.

He also added that the election should be seen as a game and not war, and every candidate should have the spirit of sportsmanship, decency, and discipline.

He said: “Bayelsa Peace Initiative, BAPI, is an apolitical non-profit making organization made up of eminent personalities who are ambassadors of peace with a high sense of patriotism. We have taken it upon ourselves as major stakeholders of the Bayelsa Project who will not give any place for elements to truncate the peace of our state and also to create animosity among our people because of the governorship election.

“The governorship election in Bayelsa State is to be done with dignity and patriotism and not with violence and intimidation as it is been done by some politicians and supporters.

“Guns, knives, cutlasses, and axes are not electoral materials. Please our young people, don’t accept them from whoever is promising you position or money to take lives or your life be taken prematurely. Please do not allow yourself to be cheap for them to manipulate you and become their sacrificial lamb.

“Violence has stunted Bayelsa’s progress over the years. An election is not cult war. Let our young people not be carried away with what their leaders are telling them but should be concerned about their future by allowing peace to reign and maintained for the betterment of the state.

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He also added that “Bayelsa is too small to be burnt up with hate speech, blackmail and weapons of destruction. We all have a mandate to ensure a peaceful electoral process as political parties in the state have signed a peace accord that is commendable, but most importantly is to drive it home to their supporters across the eight local government areas of the state and to ensure the uphold it and if any party is found wanton should be dealt with according to the agreement reached under the Electoral Act as Amended in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

“Also the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, security agencies, political actors, supporters, election observers, and the electorates are to prove themselves as mature and focused organisations that would not allow themselves to be used to truncate the electoral process.”

According to him BAPI has embarked on a campaign for the peaceful governorship election and has engagements with relevant stakeholders.

“We have commenced our own campaign for peaceful elections and we are reaching out to all grassroots supporters and relevant youth, women, religious and traditional organizations to ensure peace and sportsmanship before, during and after the election”, he said.