The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ondo State has warned political parties against using inciting or uncouth words capable of breaching the existing peace in the state during their campaigns.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Rufus Akeju, gave the warning on Friday at the stakeholders meeting organised by the commission in Akure.
Akeju urge politicians and the public to exercise restraint in their utterances and avoid getting involved in verbal wars and inflammatory comments capable of igniting political tension.
He said the commission desired to entrench a truly democratic system for all citizens and not a plutocracy open only to the rich.
The REC said that violence, hate speech and inducement of voters were criminal activities punishable under the law.
“As stakeholders and partners in the development of our democratic experience, I wish to request for more robust engagement from you.
“This will promote greater transparency in our activities.
“When we all conduct our activities with all sense of inclusiveness and transparency and shun negative vices, such as election violence, hate speech practices will naturally fade away.
“As we all prepare for 2019 general elections, it is necessary as stakeholders in the electoral process to promote positive attitude and responses among the citizenry.
“We should encourage compliance with relevant rules and regulations and discourage apathy and other forms of malpractices,” he said.
He noted that the attainment of this goal was dependent on the politicians’ full cooperation, support and determination to play the game according to the rules.
Akeju gave the assurance that the commission in the state would be guided by the principles of independence, transparency, credibility, integrity, impartiality and excellence in all its conducts.
The State Organising Secretary, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dare Akinwale, urged the commission not to be biased in the coming election.
According to him, the election will be a crucial one to be conducted in the history of the country.
Akinwale advised other political parties to strictly adhere to the rules and regulations guiding campaigns in the state.
The state Commissioner of Police, Gbenga Adeyanju, warned all the political parties to stay away from violence and conduct themselves in an orderly manner.
Adeyanju said that police and other security agencies in the state’s joint security task force were fully prepared for the coming general election.
He assured the people that the law enforcement agencies would protect their lives and property during and after the elections.
The stakeholders’ meeting was attended by all the registered political parties in the state, security agents and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO). With reports by NAN