Yemisi Izuora/Ijeoma Agudosi
As political rallies by political parties across the country witnesses various forms of violence inspite of Non-Violence Accord by all presidential candidates in the coming general elections in February, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in concert with other Civil Society Organisation today staged a rally in Lagos to sensitise the people on the need to eschew violence during and after the elections.
The rally sponsored by the ‘Open Society Initiativ For West Africa’ (OSIWA) was aimed at educating voters to stand up against impunity, corruption, poverty, violence, rape and election rigging by duly exercising their voting rights and defend it by being vigilant rather than engage in violent activities.
The assembly which marched through the busy Awolowo way Ikeja attracted a large crowd of people who listened to messages delivered by key speakers at the rally.
Comrade Ezenwa Nwagwu convener ‘Say No Campaign Nigeria’ told enthusiastic crowd that the election should be issue based and not violence. He said that unfolding events like the stoning of President Jonathans campaign train in Katsina and utterances from some groups to seek revenge on General Buhari’s campaign train is very unfortunate and is likely to prompt violence.
Ezenwa called for caution and urged government to take every necessary measure to prevent violence during the elections.
He said government should avoid institutional rigging by ensuring that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not disenfranchise eligible voters and also that the security agents are not employed cover up any form of electoral malpractice.
Speaking also, the executive secretary of the CLO, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike appealed to Nigerian’s to recall the battle for the enthronement of democracy and that such effort which led to several deaths, incarceration of people and other forms of intimidation by the military should not be allowed to be in vain.
Ezike said that the accord by the parties to disdain violence would not have been necessary if government had prosecuted and punished those who engaged in political violence in the past in accordance with the provisions of the law.
He called on the security operatives to be vigilant on illegal possession of arms and utterances by groups who are threatening aggression and hostility.
In his speech, Comrade Dada Bankole, the Director General of the Immaculate Initiative For Peace, expressed concern over the continuous monumental expenditure by political parties in the ongoing rallies.
Bankole warned that military intervention is imminent should the ongoing pre-election violence escalates into full blown hostility after the election.
He said the ‘Non Violent’ campaign will be fortified and move quickly into neighbourhood targeting the youths to end down the message to a larger segment of the society.