President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reiterated his commitment to credible elections.
From Bolaji Ogundele and Nicholas Kalu, Abuja
He warned against violence and lack of fairness in Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State.
Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are the leading candidates. Twelve others are also contesting.
The stakes are high given the fierce contest.
The President warned electoral officials and security agents to be neutral while carrying out their duties.
He also warned political parties and politicians to behave responsibly as they go into the election.
The President, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said he is committed to bequeathing the culture of free and fair elections. He said, however, that, the activities of those on the field would go a long way to determine outcomes.
In a message to voters, political parties, election officials and security personnel, the President reiterated his stance.
He said that: “I am passionately committed to free and fair elections, but my own commitment is not enough if other actors at ground zero refuse to abide by the rules.
“I want to see democratic standards in the country raised higher at every level, but these cannot be achieved when politicians resort to do or die methods to gain power by any means or machination.
“The do-or-die mentality to politics is a threat to free and fair elections because the actors are more focused on winning than caring about a fair outcome that reflects the Will of the people.”
Buhari appealed to political parties and their candidates to behave peacefully and respect law and order. He also advised election officials and security agents “to remain neutral to ensure free and fair elections and avoid any action(s) capable of compromising the integrity of the elections.”
He said: “Conducting free and fair elections is one of my main concerns for our democracy, and I want this commitment to be one of the legacies I will leave behind when I depart office.”
The 4 Brigade Nigerian Army, Benin, released two help lines for the public to report untowards activities.
The Assistant Director Army Public Relations, Maj. Ojo Adenegan, made in a statement gave the telephone numbers as 08079831567 and 08079839190.
He said the telephone lines would be operational round the clock.
Also on Thursday, the Police Service Commission (PSC) cautioned police officers and men to operate within the law or face sanctions.
The commission has already deployed a high powered team to monitor the conduct of policemen on electoral duties.
Head, Press and Public Relations of the Commission, Mr Ikechukwu Ani, said the team is led by Rommy Mom, a Commissioner representing the Human Rights Organizations and Austin Braimoh, representing the Media.
The Commission has also released dedicated telephone numbers for complaints and commendation on the conduct of Police during the poll.