The National Peace Committee (NPC) led by former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar will on Tuesday, next week, preside over a session where the major contenders in the September 19 governorship election in Edo State are expected to commit to a violent-free election.
The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made this known during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 in Abuja on Thursday.
The incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his major challenger, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are the major candidates in the crucial election.
Mahmood also said about 17,000 ad hoc staff would be recruited for the election, noting that the PTF guidelines and safety measures would be strictly obeyed as the commission was going to operate a ‘no face mask, no voting policy’ at the poll.
On the assurance of a violent-free election, the INEC boss said his organisation, in collaboration with critical stakeholders, particularly the security services and the traditional institutions, would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the election is devoid of any violence.
“A couple of weeks ago, we were in Benin City. What did we go there to do? First to speak with officials of INEC. And I invited the electoral officers from all the 18 local government areas to our meeting.
“Thereafter, I had an engagement with the representatives of all the security agencies in Benin, from the Police to the SSS to the Security and Civil Defence, even the Prison Service and the Fire Service.
“We had an engagement with the State COVID-19 Response in Benin… And then, we visited his majesty, the Oba of Benin. At that meeting, his majesty promised us that he was going to invite some of the candidates in the election and speak to them on the importance of peaceful conduct and I am happy to say that he did that.
“But in addition, I carried a message to his royal majesty from the National Peace Committee led by our respectable former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
“The National Peace Committee just like INEC and every conscientious Nigerian is also concerned about the fear of violence in elections. The National Peace Committee is organising the signing of a high-profile peace accord in Benin on Tuesday next week.
“So, we leave for Benin this weekend. We will hold a stakeholders’ meeting with all the candidates and parties, civil society groups, the media, everybody, on Monday. Then, on Tuesday, we will now witness the signing of the peace accord.
“I hope that this efforts that we are making will lead to the kind of outcome that we are talking about”, he said.