…Obaseki, CP decries violence***
…As Women groups rally support for Obaseki, Edo Speaker***
The U.S. has expressed genuine worry over reports of deteriorating political climate in Edo and observable interference by security forces in political matters, ahead of the September gubernatorial election.
The U.S Embassy in Abuja, in a statement, has therefore called for free, fair, and credible elections where the will of the Nigerians would be reflected in results.
According to the mission, the U.S pledges support to Nigeria’s democratic process, stating that as long-time friends, it will continue to follow political developments ahead of off-cycle elections in the country.
“The U.S. supports a democratic process where the will of the people is reflected in the results, and does not favour any party or candidate.
“We are concerned with reports of the deteriorating political climate in Edo and are disappointed with the role played by some political actors in the state.
“We are especially concerned with allegations of interference by security forces in political matters, which we will continue to monitor closely in the run-up to gubernatorial elections in September.
“As we approach the 2020 off-cycle elections in Edo and Ondo, we urge all stakeholders to work toward a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful process.
“We encourage all stakeholders, including INEC, political parties and the security services to continue to improve the electoral process. We look to Nigeria as an important leader on the African continent,” it said.
The U.S said that as a democratic partner of Nigeria, it remained committed to working together to achieve mutual goals of peace and prosperity for the citizens of both our countries.
In another development, Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo on Friday in Benin condemned acts of political thuggery and violence in the state, saying that the state security council had vowed to withdraw police protecting non-state actors.
Obaseki, who spoke after a closed-door meeting with security chiefs in the state, expressed concern over the rising security challenges ahead of the September 19 governorship election.
“We condemn the high level of thuggery, violence, and increasing influx of arms into the state.
“The Commissioner of Police briefed the council on the situation at the Edo House of Assembly that led to some illegal and treasonable acts by some individuals.
“The security personnel have assured us of their readiness to secure and tackle any security challenges faced by the state.
“They are up to the task; they have the men and materials to take charge. They assured us and the good people of Edo of adequate security,” he said.
The governor further said that the state security chiefs had assured government that they would protect everyone irrespective of political affliction.
In his remarks, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, said that the command had reviewed the security situation in the last few weeks.
“We have talked about political violence and thuggery; we have evolved means of putting such to check.
“The security agencies will do everything to protect lives and properties; we have created a conducive atmosphere for the forthcoming governorship election.
“We want to assure Edo people that the pre-election period will be conducive for campaign during and after the election to ensure no breach of law and order,” he said
On his meeting with the 17 members of the House of Assembly, who were inaugurated at a private residence in Benin on Thursday, the police commissioner said that he was apolitical and his office was “open to all”.
“It is my statutory responsibility to provide security for lives and property irrespective of political affiliation,” he said.
In the meantime, Some women groups in Edo on Friday converged at the entrance to the state House of Assembly to rally support for Gov. Godwin Obaseki and Speaker of the House, Francis Okiye.
The women groups also condemned the inauguration of another House of Assembly in the state.
Lady Uwa Osunbr, the Edo South PDP Senatorial Women Leader and spokesperson for the women groups, told newsmen in Benin that they were in the assembly to rally for support of Obaseki.
Osunbor said: “We are satisfied with the leadership qualities of Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, to develop the state and the legislature under the leadership of Okiye.
“We are disturbed by the happenings at the state assembly. We decided to come out en-mass to throw our weight behind the governor in order for him to complete the projects he has already started,” she said.
Osunbor, who also condemned the alleged impeachment of the speaker, said Edo only had one speaker in the person of Okiye.