Abdulsalami panel wades in Edo violence
The Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee has stepped in to stem further violence ahead of the September 19 Edo State governorship election.
The leading parties are to be made to sign a peace pact, it was learnt on Thursday.
Before the latest effort, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II last week chided political leaders in the state for the continuous violence and urged them to rein in their thugs.
The Abdulsalami panel played a big role in preventing bloodshed ahead of last year’s general election.
Its intervention in the Edo election is in conjunction with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), it was gathered.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Governor Godwin Obaseki and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, are expected to sign a peace accord on Tuesday.
INEC has ruled out poll postponement under any guise.It has deployed three National Commissioners and five Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Edo State to supervise the September 19 poll.
According to a top source in INEC, the electoral agency is set for the poll except for threats of violence by politicians.
The source said: “We are worried about violence, the inability of some critical segments to raise the red flag and the conduct of security agencies.
“INEC leadership has met with the security agencies, including Correctional Service (Prison) and Fire Service. It also visited the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II on fears about violence. After a three-hour session, the monarch met with the key actors in the state to prevail on them for a peaceful poll.
“You can observe that the tension has started going down after the intervention of the Oba. But we will not take things for granted.
“Now, the National Peace Committee, headed by Gen. Abdulsalami, wants to go to Benin for the signing of peace accord by all the candidates, especially the two key players whose campaigns have created tension.
“The peace pact will be due on Tuesday. We hope there will be some convergence and the politicians will take a cue to recover their senses.
The source said: “INEC is prepared for the Edo governorship election. So far, we have successfully implemented 12 out of 14 activities for the poll and no item was shifted. The remaining issues are the last day of the campaign and the conduct of the election.
“We are so committed to the poll, there will be no postponement. The same law that says we should withdraw where there is violence or where we anticipate violence also mandates us to go back to complete the process when calmness is restored.
“Five RECs, representing each of the six geopolitical zones, except South-South, and three National Commissioners are moving to Edo. The INEC chairman will join them on Saturday to put things in shape for the election.
“The deployment of commissioners is to ensure transparency of the process. The three National Commissioners will be in charge of the three Senatorial Districts in the state. INEC is non-aligned, it has no interest in any candidate but it will ensure a free and fair process.”
The source said “no National Commissioner or REC from Edo State will participate in the election in the state.”
Regarding the furore over Z-Pad, the highly-placed source said: “We cannot use the tablet for Edo election because we are not ready to gamble with it in major elections like Edo and Ondo.”