Edo election: CUPP cautions security agencies not to engage in voters’ intimidation

• hails US for sanctioning poll offenders, • urges EU countries to follow suit

Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has cautioned the Nigeria Police, the Army and other security agencies in the country to refrain from using their personnel to intimidate voters in Saturday’s election holding in Edo in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

This was just as the group called on the international community to monitor the Edo election with the utmost attention and ensure that anyone seen committing electoral crimes should be comprehensively sanctioned immediately.

While commending the US government for the recent sanctions imposed on all those identified as election criminals in some states and calling on the European Union (EU) countries to follow suit.

National co-spokesperson of the coalition, Comrade Mark Adebayo, issued this warning on Friday in a press release issued by the coalition’s national Co-Spokesperson, Comrade Mark Adebayo.

The coalition, while giving the warning, said a situation whereby the government at the centre would unleash security agencies on a state to help its candidate rig and win elections through voter intimidation, among others can no longer be tolerated as such actions were inimical to the development of the nation’s democracy and direct threats to the Nigerian state itself.

“A practice whereby the government at the centre would unleash security agencies on a state to help its candidate to rig and win elections through voter intimidation, aiding and abetting thugs to snatch boxes or disrupt votes where their main opponent is strong or engage in indiscriminate arrests of strong non-APC politicians on the eve elections as witnessed in Kogi state election and other states can no longer be tolerated.

“All such actions are inimical to the development of our democracy and are direct threats to the Nigerian State itself,” CUPP said.

According to the coalition, the duties of security agencies at elections are limited to providing a safe atmosphere for the conduct of an election and the safety of the election officials and the voters, saying engaging in anti-democratic activities such as supporting the candidate of party governing at the centre against the opponent is not only criminal but directly injurious to Nigeria’s democracy and national stability.

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CUPP, while calling on the international community to monitor the Edo governorship election with the utmost attention and ensure that it was crime-free and commending the American government for the recent sanctions imposed on all those identified as election criminals in some states of the federation, noted that the sanctions didn’t go far enough.

The group said there were many election offenders still walking free in the country, pointing out that some of then were occupying high government positions and must “be captured in the sanctions to serve as deterrent for others.”

“We call on the international community to monitor the Edo governorship election with the utmost attention and ensure that anyone seen committing electoral crimes should be comprehensively sanctioned immediately.

“We commend the American government for the recent sanctions imposed on all those identified as election criminals in some states and we call on the European Union countries including the UK to follow suit by imposing comprehensive sanctions on all electoral criminals in Nigeria.

“However, the sanctions didn’t go far enough as there are many election offenders still walking free in the country some of whom are occupying high government positions. All these ones must be captured in the sanctions to serve as a deterrent for others,” the coalition said.

CUPP, however, appeal to all Edo voters to conduct themselves peacefully while staying vigilant to protect their votes to make sure they were not shortchanged, even it urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the election professionally and avoid any act that is tantamount to bias against any candidate.

It argued that INEC as the regulator of the country’s electoral processes was expected to be transparent, impartial and just to all players in the nation’s elections.

“We appeal to all voters in Edo State to conduct themselves peacefully while staying vigilant to protect their votes in order to ensure you are not shortchanged.

“We caution the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct the election professionally and avoid any act that is tantamount to bias against any candidate. As the regulator of our electoral processes, INEC is expected to be transparent, impartial and just to all players in our elections,” CUPP said.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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