Desmond Mgboh, Kano and Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Echoes of the violence that marred the conduct of the 2019 general elections in Kano State resurfaced at the stakeholders meeting held the premises of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), where discussions were held on how to record a peaceful conduct of the re-run polls in some constituencies in the state.
The Appeal Court in Kaduna State had ordered for re-run elections to be conducted tomorrow in Kiru/ Bebeji and Tudun Wada/ Doguwa federal constituencies in Kano State.
There were similar judicial orders for re-run elections in two polling units in Kumbotso Federal Constituency and in 12 polling units in four state constituencies, namely Bunkure, Madobi, Minijibir and Rogo respectively. The exercises would affect 60 registration areas in nine local government areas in the state.
However, at the stakeholders meeting, the issue of violence and how to make the exercise violence-free dominated discussions. The meeting was attended by Resident Electoral Commission of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Riskuwa Arabu Shehu, Police Commissioner, the Director SSS and representatives of a whole range of stakeholders,
Shehu threatened to suspend any election that manifests any form of threat to the safety of voters, personnel and their materials while stressing that henceforth, INEC would not allow incidence of violence to mar the credibility of their elections. He regretted that despite their huge investments and efforts to achieve a violence- free exercise, including the training of the stakeholders, the fact is that the last elections in the state were marred by violence.
He appealed to the stakeholders, especially security agencies and the members of the political class, to play their parts in the process. He assured them that on their part, they would implement the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act (As amended) and comply with the guidelines for the conduct of elections in Nigeria
INEC Commissioner, who stressed their neutrality to all the political parties, announced that they have received all the non-sensitive materials for the elections, saying they were waiting for the arrival of the sensitive materials any moment.
Commissioner of Police, Habu Sani, restated the position of the INEC on the need to conduct a violent free re-run elections: “On our part as security agencies, particularly the police, we have looked at all the areas that are affected for these elections”
He said they were focusing on the voting points, adding that his deployment of officers is intended to ensure that there is security in all the areas that people would go and cast their votes:
“We have equally looked at the collation centres and the issue of the restriction of movement and how we would be able to secured the areas that are affected for these elections.” He noted that there was enough officers to respond to any distress that may arise in the conduct of the re- run polls.
He said peace during the conduct of elections would impact positively on the nation’s democracy while imploring all the critical stakeholders to ensure that they did not take actions against that triggers anything violent during the elections:
“We would not be distracted by any influence, we would not be distracted by any person or by any interests.” He urged the political class to play the game according to laid down rules as they were prepared to deal with any defaulter according to the law.
Indications from Kaduna State also revealed that the people are getting ready for the re-run exercise in two of local government areas of Kagarko and Sanga. The INEC said it was ready to conduct State House of Assembly re-run elections in Kagarko and Sanga tomorrow Saturday.
In view of this, some critical stakeholders had converged on Gwantu, the headquarters of Sanga Local Government Area to discuss the modalities for peaceful elections.
The District Head of Fadan Ninzo, who was part of the stakeholders meeting held in Gwantu, Ibrahim Anzah, called on the voters in Sanga to vote only credible candidate that can give them quality voice in the State House of Assembly.
The traditional father who was represented by Muhammed Gwamna said that, “Although we are in support of the current government, but we are not looking at the party, but an individual who can stand for us as a people and defend our just course in the assembly.
“We don’t want what happened in Kogi and Bayelsa states to happen here in Sanga. Youths who indulge in drug to misbehave should know that, the people using them to foment trouble under the influence of drugs will not use their own children. I urge them to put a stop to it now.”
One of the contestants in Sanga under the umbrella of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs Comfort Amwe, called on INEC to guide against what she alleged to have happened in the last election where trained had-hoc staff were short changed with “fake” ones during the poll:
“Before the last elections, some people were trained to conduct the elections. But different people came during the elections. Hope this will not repeat itself this time around.”
Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC) in Sanga, Danjuma Ayuba Tata, said youths from his party have been told not to fight saying, they have realised the importance of peace without which there cannot be development.
But, following the readiness of INEC, the Network of Women-led Civil Society Organisations in Kaduna temporarily relocated to Gwantu and Sanga to canvass for free, fair and peaceful elections.
The women said their resolve to travel to Sanga was born out of the need for violence-free election to guide against a repeat of violence that characterized recent Kogi and Bayelsa States elections which led to lost of lives and destruction of properties.
Leader of the network and a one-time member of House of Representatives, Florence Aya, called on candidates to educate their supporters on the need for violence-free elections: “As mothers, we are concerned that there should be peaceful, non violence rerun in Kagarko and Sanga.
“We want all the candidates to call their supporters to order to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in these two LGAs. Election where every vote will count is what we want to see.
“We don’t want a repeat of violence in Kogi and Bayelsa states. We know that these stakeholders are responsible whether as religion or traditional leaders. They should let their supporters and followers know that there should be no violence.”
In an interview with Daily Sun, the Special Assistant to Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution /SDGs, Leonel Echa, said: “Kaduna State Peace Commission commends the efforts of the network of Women-Led CSOs in Kaduna. Most importantly, we commend those that came out today.
“Their presence tells us three things: first, that we can have peaceful election, second, that they will go back to their community and step down what they have learnt here and third, that, we can hold them accountable to the peace accord they have signed.”