Leading Candidates of the eight registered political parties in Delta State, including Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Governorship candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Great Ogboru Governorship Candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Hon. Victor Ochei, Delta North Senatorial zone Candidate of the Accord Party, AP and Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, Delta Central Senatorial zone Candidate of the Labour Party, LP, amongst others, have signed a peace pact to commit themselves to ensuring a violence free polls before, during and after the 2015 general election.
Remarkably absent from the historic Peace Accord meeting were Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, Governorship Candidate of the APC, as well as the Delta State APC Chairman Prophet. Jones Erhue. Also conspicuously absent was the Delta North Senatorial candidate of the PDP, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi.
While Emerhor reportedly traveled out of the country, Erue was said to be in Port Harcourt, Rivers State for some pressing issues during the duration of the ceremony. It was also not clear as at press time why Chief Peter Nwaoboshi did not attend the meeting.
The peace accord meeting which was brokered by the Delta State Police Command headed by the Delta State Police Commissioner, Baba Alkali Usman, had in attendance, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and Deputy Governor Amos Utuama (SAN), as well as some other governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly candidates and the chairmen of the registered Political parties in the State.
The signing of the peace pact which was administered by the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Zone 5, Musa Daura, was witnessed by key stakeholders in Delta State including Rev. Justus Mogekwu, Bishop of Asaba Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Charles Ajuyah, Delta State Commissioner for Justice, Aniedi Abasi Ikoiwak, Delta State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC and a host of others.
The Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Alkali Baba Usman, said the strategy was aimed at forestalling politically motivated violence before, during and after the election.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in his remarks stressed that peace accords entered into by politicians should not be for formalities, but should be honoured and respected for a violence-free electioneering process to be achieved, in the interest of democracy in the State and country.
The Governor said, “If all of us present in this hall decide that these elections should be violence-free, they will be violence-free. We are signing a document today for violence-free elections, it should not just be ceremonial. We must act with the document”
Uduaghan, who commended politicians in the state for the matured way they have conducted themselves so far, emphasized the importance of the conduct of politicians during and after the elections and enjoined them to maintain the impressive display of maturity and decency in their campaigns in the runup to the elections.
The Delta Governor, who equally commended the Police for making it possible for candidates for elective positions and their political parties to sign the violence-free elections accord, urged the Police and other security agencies in the state to ensure full compliance with the signed agreement.
“This event is very key to the success of the 2015 general elections. We need peaceful elections. No position is worth dying for. Eight years is very short and four years is even shorter. You are in the field again and it is not necessary to go to the extent of engaging in violence,” he admonished.
Speaking on the shift in the date of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Governor Uduaghan hailed the decision as laudable, even as he noted that, “some people are not happy but a lot of people are happy.”
The Governor then appealed to all stakeholders including spiritual leaders, journalists, retired military men and even the electorate to engage in actions which would not only ensure violence free elections but also engender a peaceful electioneering process that would add value to the electoral system in the country.
The convener of the peace accord meeting and Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Alkali Baba Usman in his welcome address, noted that politicians must not only agree on the need to ensure credible polls but equally realize the need to be more democratic in the conduct of political activities within the ambits of the law with a view to ensuring peace, understanding and respect for one another.
According to him, “The Commands posture is that of zero tolerance to political violence under whatever guise. The Command is committed and poised to provide violence-free environment for all peace loving Nigerians/foreign nationalities resident in Delta State before, during and after the general elections”, he stated.
Alkali Usman further affirmed thus; “To this end, the Command has put in place special investigation teams to investigate and prosecute all infractions on the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) in conjunction with the INEC and of course all extant laws in force.
“Parents and guardians alike should warn their children/wards against being used as a veritable instrument to create confusion in the state as the full wrath of the law will be made to bear on such errant individuals or group of persons along with their sponsors”, the police commissioner added.
In his own comments, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Musa Daura zone 5, said it was important for peaceful elections to be achieved, even as he harped on the need for collective effort in ensuring credible, violence free elections.
“We must all be in the vanguard for a credible and acceptable electoral process. We have resolved to provide an electoral environment free of intimidation and politicians should play the game by the rules bearing in mind that they are sportsmen. We should shun criminal and electoral violence before, during and after the elections.”
Speaking on peace and the expected response of politicians to the peace accord, the Bishop of Asaba Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Justus Mogekwu urged politicians to imbibe the virtue of humility and avoid acts of desperation in their quest to achieving their political ambitions.
In his own comments the recently transferred Resident Electoral Commissioner of the INEC in the state, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak assured that despite the shift in dates for the elections, INEC was poised to ensure free and credible elections.
“We will deliver a credible election not only in Delta but Nigeria,” he said.
Highpoint of the ceremony was the joint administration and swearing of the oath of peace by the candidates of the various political parties and the signing of the peace accord by all the major stake holders in the election process for the 2015 general elections.