By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa – A civil society organisstion, known as Bayelsans Against Electoral Violence Initiative has decried the breach of a peace pact signed by major political parties ahead of the general elections in Bayelsa East Senatorial District.
In a statement signed by its President and Secretary, Messrs Preye Johnbull and Egba Father, and issued in Yenagoa on Thursday, the group expressed disappointment that the major political parties had breached the peace accord.
It stated that the dominant political parties and their candidates, who were signatories to the peace deal, violently disrupted the campaigns of smaller parties in the area.
“As concerned stakeholders of Ogbia, Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas, we are sounding the alarm to security agencies and community leaders to halt the dangerous trend.
“This dangerous act is allegedly being perpetrated by supporters and thugs of one of the two major parties in a bid to exclude other parties from campaigning in certain communities, particularly in Nembe-Bassambiri town,” the group added.
It stated that the last reported incident was on Feb.13, 2019, when African Democratic Congress was said to have been forced to cancel its campaign due to anticipated violence.
It further stated that the Labour Party supporters were also reportedly attacked and prevented from campaigning in the community.
The statement added: “In the case of the Accord Party, its supporters were allegedly attacked and stabbed after successfully holding their campaign rally in the community.
“To say the least, this kind of behaviour is backward, barbaric and morally reprehensible; coming a few weeks after the historic peace accord signed by most candidates and their party representatives on Jan.18, 2019.”
The group pointed out that the peace accord was signed at the instance of the Nembe-Bassambiri Chiefs Council.
It stated that if not checked, the spate of violence in the area would deprive innocent people from exercising their right to vote.
According to the group, the violent acts eroded and questions the integrity of the peace accord and similar laudable peace pacts signed across other Nembe kingdoms, including Nembe City and Okpoama Kingdom.
It restated its committment to the ideals of democratic governance and rule of law before, during and after the general elections.
The group called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all the security agencies and traditional rulers to rise against the ugly trend.
It stated: “As Nigeria prepares to go to the polls on Saturday, no stone should be left unturned in guaranteeing the safety of lives and property of law abiding citizens.
“There must be visible efforts to deploy security personnel to highly volatile areas, such as Nembe, Brass and other flashpoints in Bayelsa.
It stated that such security measures would help to avoid a repeat of the mindless killings that took place in previous elections in the areas.
“We and our partner organisations in the human rights and election monitoring community across Nigeria will continue to watch and pursue necessary actions as the elections progressed,” the statement said.