The residents of Edo State are hopeful of a violence-free election as they go to the poll to elect a governor for another four-year term.
Following the chains of violence recorded in parts of the state during the electioneering campaign period, the electorates insist that the exercise scheduled for September 19 would be peaceful.
Channels Television crew interviewed some of the residents during a tour of Benin City, the state capital on Friday – the eve of the Election Day.
They said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as well as the security agencies have assured them of adequate security and a peaceful exercise.
“Everywhere is secured; people are only giving the impression that the election will not take place, but the government has made all preparations intact.
“So, I don’t know why people will not come out to vote,” a resident, Rufus Arubiye, told Channels Television.
Another resident, Mrs Victoria Momojumo, believes adequate preparations have been put in place by the relevant authorities.
“Tomorrow, I am going to vote and I will vote for the right person I want,” said Victoria whose opinion was supported by Stanley Nduka who believes there will be calm and the election will be peaceful.
“I believe everything will be fine; I am going to vote but I won’t sell my conscience. We want a leader, not a ruler,” another resident, Juliet Osas, stated.
Although the atmosphere in Edo is relatively peaceful, residents flooded the streets in some parts of the state in what can be described as last-minute shopping before they go to the poll.
During a visit to some of the major markets in Benin City, many residents were seen stocking foodstuff while others bought non-food items.
Shops and food markets were fully opened for commercial activities as early as 8:30 am at the Second Circular Road and Upper Mission Road areas of the state capital.
While some anticipated the election day as they were unable to contain their excitement, signs of fear and worry were evident on the faces of others.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had fixed September 19 to conduct the election in all the 18 Local Government Areas (LGA) of the state.
At a press briefing in Abuja on February 6, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, noted that the tenure of the present administration in Edo would end on November 12, 2020.
According to him, the Electoral Act provides that the election cannot be conducted earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the tenure of an incumbent governor.
Five months later, the electoral umpire cleared the 12 candidates from various political parties to vie for the office of the governor.
Ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, Amnesty International has asked the Federal Government to prevent violence and uphold human rights.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the group’s Country Director, Osai Ojigho, said the move is necessary over what it describes as disturbing signs of violence, a month to the exercise.
Amnesty International said it has received “disturbing reports of violence by the political class and the unfortunate use of young people to perpetuate these reprehensible acts.”
“Government must protect people from violence and ensure the full respect for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association before, during and after the state’s upcoming gubernatorial election and subsequent elections in other states of the federation,” the statement partly read.
Ojigho also called on political parties and their candidates to “publicly condemn any advocacy of hatred or incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”
“The authorities must put measures in place to ensure politicians and their supporters do not infringe on human rights. They must announce clearly that there is zero-tolerance for human rights violations and that anyone suspected of wrongdoing will be brought to justice,” Ojigho said.
“The authorities must also ensure that journalists, international and national civil society groups and agencies that will monitor the elections are able to do so in safety.”
“Fueling the instability and impunity in the state, are reports of supporters of some politicians violently targeting political opponents, real or perceived.
“The authorities must stamp out any potential impunity by ensuring these incidents are investigated and those suspected to be responsible, brought to justice.”
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has blamed some religious leaders in the state for the Southern Kaduna killings.
Speaking during a meeting with the Primate of Anglican Communion, Henry Ndukuba, and the Secretary of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, the governor lamented that religion, rather than being used to unite the people, has become a divisive tool for selfish interests.
“This state is going through challenging times which people are using religion to divide instead of using religion to unite.
“You visit here in an indication of your recognition in the positive role that religion can play to unite our people. This has become the overriding objective of this state government.
“The Primate is aware of the history of violence and religious intolerance in this state. Our study of the situation over 40 decades has shown that the main drivers of this violence are a few clerics that use their platform not to preach peaceful co-existence but use their revered position to divide and incite violence,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Special Forces approved by the Defence Headquarters to halt the senseless killings and restore peace in Southern Kaduna have arrived Kafanchan ahead of their deployment to the various flashpoints in the area later today.
The Special Forces were drawn from the Nigerian Army.
They were received at Sector 7, the headquarters of Operation Safe Haven, by the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan.
Addressing the troops, the Commissioner charged them to take the battle to the bandits and ensure that peace and security are restored to Southern Kaduna.
The joint United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) condemned Tuesday “violent incidents” in North Darfur state which left nine dead and 20 wounded.
“UNAMID is deeply concerned about the violent incidents that erupted in Kutum town on 12 July and the attack by unidentified armed men on the Fata Borno IDP (internally displaced people) camp on the morning of 13 July 2020 which left 9 IDPs dead and 20 injured,” the peacekeeping mission said in a statement.
“It is regrettable that these incidents have taken place while the transitional government of Sudan and the armed movements are close to concluding negotiations expected to bring peace and stability… to the Darfur region and the whole of Sudan,” it added.
Darfur has long been plagued by poor security and armed groups.
In 2003, a deadly ethnic conflict broke out in Darfur between African minority rebels and forces backed by the government of ex-president Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019.
Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court over charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
The United Nations says the conflict killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.
Sudan’s current transitional government, comprised of military and civilian figures led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok since last year, has engaged in talks with three key rebel groups to reach a peace deal to end the wars in Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
A signing ceremony with various rebel factions slated for Tuesday was delayed once again.
In the wake of the recent unrest, North Darfur’s governor announced a state of emergency on Monday.
Pope Francis on Sunday urged international bodies as well as political and military leaders to stop the violence in Libya and to also end the plight of migrants, refugees and others trapped there.
Speaking from a window at his Vatican residence on St Peter’s Square, the pope told the faithful he included his concerns in his prayers over recent days.
“I am following the dramatic situation in Libya with great apprehension,” he said.
“I urge international bodies and those who have political and military responsibilities to recommence with conviction and resolve the search for a path towards an end to the violence, leading to peace, stability and unity in the country.”
The pope also said he prayed for “the thousands of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons in Libya”.
Alluding apparently to the coronavirus pandemic also hitting Libya, he said “the health situation has aggravated the already precarious conditions in which they find themselves, making them more vulnerable to forms of exploitation and violence.”
He added “there is cruelty”, urging the international community to take “their plight to heart” and find ways and means “to provide them with the protection they need, a dignified condition and a future of hope.”
The oil-rich North African nation has been mired in chaos and violence since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) controls the west, including the capital Tripoli, while military strongman Khalifa Haftar holds the east and some of the far-flung oases and oilfields that dot the south.
War and division are now weakening Libya’s fight against the novel coronavirus, with the government struggling to deal with an outbreak deep in the desert south.
Northwestern Nigeria has been wracked by years of violence between rival communities over land, attacks by heavily-armed criminal gangs and reprisal killings by vigilante groups.
Cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom have also flourished in the security vacuum.
The military has carried out air raids on camps in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, and neighbouring Zamfara to try to stamp out the attacks but despite that, a resurgence continues to occur even amid the COVID-19.
Earlier on Friday, the police stated that it had arrested six notorious bandits terrorising Dutsinma Local Government Area of the state, recovering 130 cows along with 225 sheep.
According to them, two of the bandits are from Shamushalle village, another two from Nahuta village in Batsari Local Government Area, while the remaining two are from Kurfi and Safana LGAs of the state.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that an estimated 23,000 persons in the northwestern part of Nigeria, have been forced to seek safety and security in Niger in the last one month (April) due to the violence in the region.
According to a statement issued by the UNHCR on Tuesday, this takes the total number of refugees fleeing that part of the country to take sanctuary in neighbouring Niger, to more than 60,000 since the first influx, in April last year.
“Since April 2019, people have fled relentless attacks by armed groups in the Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states of Nigeria. Most found refuge in Niger’s Maradi region,” the statement read.
“Fearing and fleeing the same insecurity in the border areas, an additional 19,000 Niger nationals have become displaced inside their own country”.
The UNHCR further explained that the latest influx of refugees, which involves mainly desperate women and children, follows attacks in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states during the month of April.
“Several villages in several Local Government Areas were attacked by gunmen.
“The deadliest attack claimed 47 lives in Kankara, Danmusa and Dusi-ma Local Government Areas in Katsina State and prompted airstrikes by the Nigerian Armed Forces,” the statement added.
According to the UNHCR, those fleeing speak of extreme violence unleashed against civilians, murders, kidnappings for ransom and pillaging and looting of villages and despite border closures due to COVID-19, they are still being allowed to seek protection in Niger.
Meanwhile, there’s now an urgent need for water, food and access to health services, as well as shelter and clothing.
But the agency says it is working closely with authorities in Niger to relocate at least 7,000 refugees to safety, in villages 20 kilometres away from the border, where water, food, shelter, access to health and other essential assistance can be provided.
This, according to them, will also ease the pressure on host communities in border areas, where basic infrastructure and services are lacking.
Two policemen and four other people were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday after a deadly clash at a public food donation in central Ghor province, officials said.
Hundreds of people had gathered outside the governor’s office in the provincial capital Firozkoh, where a Qatari group was distributing aid.
It was not immediately clear why the gathering turned violent, but officials blamed armed men in the crowd.
“The protesters opened fire on the police,” the provincial governor’s spokesman Aref Haber said.
“Four civilians, including an employee of a local radio and two policemen were killed,” he said, adding that 19 people were also wounded.
He said the protesters also beat security personnel and an investigation into the incident was underway.
The interior ministry confirmed the death toll in a statement, saying “some illegal armed men in the mob attacked the government building”, which prompted police to fire into the air to disperse the crowd.
Abdul Rahman Akshan, the deputy head of Ghor’s provincial council, also confirmed the incident and the death toll.
Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh said the attack was “shocking” and announced that the “government was seriously investigating the incident” in a Facebook post.
The aid group was distributing food to about 1,000 local families. Food drives are a common practice in the country during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Afghanistan is battling a growing coronavirus outbreak that has exacerbated problems with food access in the impoverished country.