Candidates and political parties participating in the 6 November governorship election in Anambra State have signed a peace accord, ahead of the poll.
At the signing ceremony held at the Professor Dorothy Akunyili Women’s Development Centre, Awka, the state capital on Thursday, the candidates pledged to ensure peace during and after the election.
The peace accord was facilitated by the National Peace Committee (NPC) headed by a former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar.
It comes amid the security concerns in Anambra State following recent violent activities by some gunmen in many parts of the state.
The candidates who signed the accord include Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress, Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party, and Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
Others are Etiaba Chukwuogo of the Action Alliance (AA), Uzo Godwin of the Social Democratic Party, Godwin Maduka of the Accord Party (AP), Nwankwo Chidozie of the African Action Congress (AAC), Okonkwo Francis of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Onyejegbu Okwudili of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), and Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Ohajimkpo Emeka of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Ezenwafor Victor of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), and Nnamdi Nwawuo of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) also signed the accord.
Mr Abubakar, in his address at the event, said NPC had organised the event to support the peaceful electoral process in Anambra State.
“We are all aware of the consistent history of political and electoral violence in Nigeria.
“Almost every election in Nigeria is accompanied by violence, ballot box snatching, vote buying, outright disruption of the process and in some cases, the intimidation of ordinary citizens who simply want to select a leader that will govern them,” Mr Abubakar said.
“This violence has gone beyond just the period of election. Every day we hear stories of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and in most cases, outright criminality.
This ugly trend continues to threaten the peace, security and stability of our dear country. The question is when will all this stop? How can we work together to ensure peace and stability both during and after the election cycle?
“We the members of the National Peace Committee have come to Anambra State to support a peaceful electoral process.
“We cherish Anambra State, and we cherish the peace and unity of Nigeria.
“Most importantly, we want to contribute our own quota to see that the governorship election in Anambra State is devoid of violence.
“We call on candidates, their parties and supporters to accept the outcome of the vote as long as it is adjudged to be free, fair and credible.
“In the letter and spirit of the Accord, any aggrieved party should not resort to violence, but follow a judicial process.”
Mr Abubakar said the signing of the peace accord was not a mere exercise, stressing “It is a clarion call for all the candidates and the political parties to commit themselves to a peaceful process.”
Also speaking, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said the outcome of the election would not be different from those of Edo and Ondo States.
The two elections were held in September and October 2020 amidst similar uncertainty but they largely turned out peaceful.
“Faced with the current situation in Anambra State, the Commission once again appealed to the NPC to bring parties and candidates to commit to peace before, during and after the election. We believe that Anambra cannot be different from Edo and Ondo.
“For this reason, we are also confident that just like Edo and Ondo, the election on Saturday will be peaceful and the outcome will reflect the will of the Anambra voters,” Mr Yakubu said.
Unlike Edo and Ondo States which were predicted may be susceptible to clashes among contesting parties among other violence, the electorate’s fear for the forthcoming Anambra revolves highly around the threats from secessionists group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The group recently issued a seven-day sit-at-home order, which will be effective from Friday to the residents of the state.
IPOB has since suspended the sit-at-home order.