A civil rights organisation under the aegis of YIAGA Africa on Thursday raised fears about the governorship election In Edo State, saying “the stakes are high.”
The organisation asked if it is “an election defined by strongarm tactics and violence.”
The Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, who said these in a pre-election statement on the Edo State governorship election, obtained by THE PUNCH in Abuja, said it would expose any irregularities especially “if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the polling units’ results.”
He said, “Clearly, the stakes are high in the September 19 governorship election as typified by the spate of pre-election violence and the level of desperation on the part of political actors to not only delegitimize the process but ensure they secure political power at all cost.
“Specifically, YIAGA Africa will provide accurate information on the quality of the election day process and ascertain if the official results announced by INEC reflects the total votes cast.
“If the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the polling units’ results, YIAGA Africa will expose it. If the official result announced reflects the polling unit’s votes, YIAGA Africa would confirm it.”
According to him, despite the 14 parties named by the Independent National Electoral Commission to be on the ballot, “the electoral campaigns had been dominated by two parties – the All Progressive Congress and Peoples Democratic Party.”
Itodo said, “Sadly, the competition was reduced to a contest between personalities instead of a competition of ideas, issues, and proposals for sustainable growth and development. Two-thirds of LGAs in the state were classified as hotspots and flashpoints of violence by YIAGA Africa due to the frequency of violence, arms proliferation, and a spike in cult groups’ activities in those LGAs.
“The violence rhetoric and strongarm tactics employed by the two major parties for campaigns created a tense atmosphere and a climate of fear. This informed peace talks initiated by the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty Oba Ewuare II and the signing of the Peace Accord convened by the National Peace Committee.”