By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
The Coalition of Civil Society organization (CSO), for Good Governance and Electoral Matters on Wednesday, staged a protest in Abuja against the growing threats of violence by partisans ahead of the September 19 Governorship election in Edo state.
The protesters led by Comrade Adamu Kabir Matazu, Convener, and Comrade Danesi Momoh Prince, Co-Convener also addressed a petition to the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Amb. Catriona Laing C.B, urging her to intervene and “help the will of the people to prevail”.
While they wielded placards with various inscriptions including ‘INEC, make Edo votes count’, ‘Edo people deserve peace’, ‘We will not sleep until there is a peaceful election’ among others, the protesters lamented that 39 days to the polls, activities of political players have unfortunately heightened security challenges in the State, with women and children particularly affected.
“Your Excellency, we request that you prevail on the Federal Government to implement a coherent security strategy to ensure the elections are free, fair, and represent the true will of the people”, they stated.
The coalition noted that the nation was “beginning to witness an unprecedented level of verbal and physical attacks on the Governor of Edo State, His Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki, his Deputy, and their supporters. Of particular note was the attack on Governor Godwin Obaseki and his campaign entourage by political thugs and hoodlums.
It is important to note that this is the third time that an attempt would be made to attack or intimidate the Governor and Chief Security Officer of Edo State, whose core mandate it is to protect the lives and property of residents of the state”.
The protesters also asked the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC “not to allow itself to be pressured into postponing the election, or conniving to have an inconclusive election”.
While the coalition (CSO), accused the All Progressives Congress APC of trying to win the election at all costs, it lamented that in spite of the wave of pre-election violence in the state, security operatives have not been able to make any arrest.
“It is pertinent to note that the provocations are now becoming more frequent and brazen. Edo State election is only a few weeks away from Ondo’s own and both states are in close proximity, yet, whereas Ondo State is in peace, Edo State is near boiling point, because Adams Oshiomole, who sees his candidate’s victory as a ticket back to political reckoning, would stop at nothing to achieve that. He will fail!
“It is equally noteworthy that no single arrest has been made, despite the fact that these attacks occur in the full glare of the Nigerian Police, DSS, and other security operatives in the State. In addition to the flagrant disregard for the voice of the Governor, his supporters have also been victims of this viciousness.
At least, 12 supporters were hospitalized after the attack at the Palace of the Oba of Benin, with no less than 22 vehicles destroyed by these employed thugs. These thugs openly brandish dangerous weapons and brag about the impending doom that will befall opponents of the APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. They attack citizens at will, destroy property and billboards, wreak havoc in the open markets and threaten anyone who holds a differing view from theirs.
“It has become a very worrisome situation, especially as the federal government’s security operatives look helplessly on at this criminality. The signs are ominous, to say the least.
“We demand that the international community should mobilize in numbers election observers; that the federal government assures Edo people, the nation and international community of peace and security in this September 19 election in Edo State.
They can start by enforcing seriously, the Inspector General of Police’s order that all arms and ammunition in the hands of unauthorized persons, especially thugs and hoodlums are mopped up with speed.
“That the international community pays closer attention to the Edo election and put pressure to bear on INEC to conduct a free and fair election in the State. INEC must ensure that only credible observers are accredited to objectively observe the elections