Twenty six registered political parties in Ebonyi State have signed an undertaking to ensure peaceful and credible general elections in the state in 2019.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the occasion was at the instance of the Ebonyi Police command and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) among other relevant authorities.
Muhammad Mustafa, Commissioner of Police in Ebonyi, who presided over the signing ceremony, noted that the command, sister security agencies and other relevant stakeholders desired violence-free elections in 2019.
“The political parties, INEC, security agencies, traditional rulers, stakeholders such as the former Minister of Police Affairs, among others are here for this particular purpose.
“This is a huge success and an indication that everyone is desirous of ensuring that the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in Ebonyi is maintained during the 2019 general elections,” he said.
The police boss promised that the police and other security agencies would remain neutral and apolitical during the elections but would decisively with trouble makers.
“The political parties’ primaries served as a mock-experience for us and its inherent lessons would spur us to perform better during the general elections.
“The biggest parties in the state, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and (All Progressives Congress (APC) must play the game by the rules and should be supported by the other parties to ensure peaceful polls.”
He noted that the command would give fair hearing and consideration to reports of alleged intimidation and harassment among others during the exercise.
“We have commenced actions on the cases and would not allow such incidences to occur in the state in order to maintain peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections.
“We would also assist in resolving the crisis within the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) as many of its members have assured that it would be resolved amicably.
“Members of unions disagree to agree and with their constitution, I am hopeful that all contending issues would be resolved to achieve peace.
Godswill Obioma, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ebonyi, said the commission was fully committed to ensure credible and violence-free polls in the state in 2019.
“INEC is no longer reactive but presently uses proactive technology to monitor all flash and security points, prone areas and checking of smart card readers’ authenticity.
“The smart-cards have been enhanced, from 500 mm to 3,000mm and it is not going to fail or create room for hacking.
“We are training technicians to restore and rapidly configure smart card in the unlikely event of the failure and ensure rapid response,” he said.
He urged the politicians to forget about rigging during the elections but engage in issue-based campaign of convincing the electorate on how their well-being would be enhanced.
“Do not engage in hate speeches and remember the case of Rwanda, where people killed themselves because they belong to different ethnic groups.”
Jennifer Adibe-Nwafor, state IPAC Chairman, commended the organisers of the event adding that IPAC had organised similar exercise on Thursday.
“IPAC would identify with all initiatives geared toward ensuring free and peaceful elections in Ebonyi and the checking of hate speeches,” she said.
The traditional ruler of Nkaliki-Unuhu community, Sunday Oketa, assured that traditional rulers would propagate the message of peace in their domains.
“Ebonyi would still exist after the elections, we would enlighten our subjects on the need to set political affiliations aside and relate in communion with one another,” he said.
Representatives of the various political parties expressed willingness to abide with the peace undertaking among others.
The contents of the undertaking include; to advise party members, agents, and contestants among others, to maintain peace, orderliness and good conduct in all the 13 Local Government Areas (LGAS) of the state.
“To advise party members, agents and contestants among others, not to sponsor, engage and supervise any form of thuggery or political violence in the 13 LGA of the state among others.”