By Leonard Okachie
The leaderships of 18 political parties in Abia on Tuesday signed a peace accord organised by the state Police Command.
In a speech at the event held at the Police Officers Mess, Umuahia, the Commissioner for Police, Mohammed Bala, said the event was meant to remind everybody about their Constitutional duties and rights before during and after the General Elections.
Bala said that the essence of the accord was “to ensure the protection of lives of both the contestants, electorate and electoral materials.
“This onerous task spans from electioneering period to the elections proper,” he said.
The police chief further said that the event was “to sensitise the electorate on the dos and don’ts associated with the electoral process”.
He admonished the political stakeholders and contestants to adopt a level playing field.
He also urged them to endeavour to carry out their activities peaceably and in a manner devoid of hate speech and violence.
He cautioned them to desist from the destruction of opponents’ bill boards and posters, “having in mind that there is life after election.
“It is further expected that the candidates and supporters should politick within the ambit of the law and Electoral Act,” Bala said.
He said that the event “goes beyond signing the peace accord to being committed to obey it”.
He appealed to INEC to treat every player equally as an unbiased umpire.
“Together, we shall achieve free, fair and credible general elections in 2023,” he said.
The state Chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Committee and Labour Party, Mr Ceekay Igara, expressed the need for all the political gladiators to eschew violence during the polls.
According to him, after the elections, we will continue to be brothers, sisters, colleagues and neighbours.
“Therefore, there is no need for us to engage in politics of do-or-die,” Igara said.
He said that the political parties had resolved to maintain the peace during the polls.
He, therefore, appealed to all the relevant agencies of government involved in the election to be neutral and fair to all the parties.
“Once you are fair to everybody, you will have less work to do during and after the exercise,” Igara said.
He however argued that there must be justice for peace to endure.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Ike Uzochukwu, urged the political leaders to be committed to the spirit of the peace accord.
Uzochukwu, represented by the Administrative Secretary of the commission, Mr Charles Ezema, said that the essence of signing the peace accord was to ensure a violence-free election.
He regretted that the commission had already witnessed political clashes in the state.
The state INEC boss therefore admonished politicians to engage in issue-based campaigns rather than campaign of calumny.
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu expressed the confidence that the peace accord would go a long way to concretise the peace that already existed in the state.
Ikpeazu, represented by the Commissioner for Documentation and Strategic Communication, Mr Ugochukwu Emezue, recalled that Abia had always had peaceful elections.
He promised to allow a level playing field for all the parties but warned politicians to play by the rule.
The governor further charged INEC to discharge its duties without bias.
He advised the electorate to ensure that they collected their PVCs, saying, “this is your power to choose your representatives in 2023.
“Let’s eschew thuggery and political violence, which is the bane of our politics,” Ikpeazu said.
He promised to give the necessary support to the security agencies to enable them to discharge their duties effectively.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the peace accord was signed by two representatives of each of the political parties, including the chairmen and secretaries or their representatives.
The event was attended by Heads of different security agencies in the state as well as the State Director of NOA, Dr Ngozi Okechukwu. (NAN)