Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Chairman, Benue State Traditional Council, Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, has placed a curse on any politician who would cause violence in the state before, during or after the 2019 general elections.
“The traditional institution is committed to peace because we are at the receiving end of any violence. Whoever wants to cause chaos, the land will be against such a person,” the Tor Tiv stated.
The Tor Tiv stated this, on Tuesday, during the signing of peace pact by governorship candidates of all political parties in the state organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The paramount ruler of the Tiv nation also stressed the need for all candidates of the various political parties in the state to go about their campaigns and elections in a peaceful manner.
He explained that the programme was a right step in the right direction stressing that Benue state desired peace more than any other states in the country after all it had been through in the last one year.
“We are here to talk about peace ahead of the forthcoming general elections. If there is any people who desire peace, it is Benue. We have suffered a lot. That is why we are talking peace.
“We as traditional rulers live with the people and we know the pains they go through. We feel the pain when we are faced with violence.
“We are totally committed to peace in Benue and we are prepared to pay the price to ensure peace.
“That is why we have taken the step to be apolitical in our dealings. We have suffered long enough.
“The ceremony is important but the action that follows is more important. The peace pact should not end on papers but must be translated to real action.”
He urged all the candidates to base their campaigns on issues rather than attacking one another even as he called on INEC and security agencies to ensure a credible, free and fair elections.
“We must be committed to playing by the rules. The political campaigns must be issue-based. The election umpire must be seen by their actions and inactions to show that they are neutral. The security agencies must not be seen to take sides. These are all important.
“There must exceptional commitment to peace. We must avoid thuggery. I am, therefore, appealing to politicians to avoid thuggery.
“It’s important that when elections are held, people will accept the results. When people don’t accept the result, we will have challenges. So, there must equity, fairness and openness in the conduct of the election.”
Earlier in a remark, Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Benue State, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda disclosed that in past elections, the electoral umpire has lost some of its staff to electoral violence hence the need to invite candidates to sign the peace pact.
On his part, Governor Samuel Ortom, while promising to be peaceful in his campaigns, however, urged INEC to be unbiased in its conduct of the elections.
Daily Sun reports that governorship candidates of 32 political parties signed the peace pact.