By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The All Progressive Congress (APC), the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) and some other were absent as representatives and candidates of various political parties taking part in the 2023 General Election, signed a peace accord in Anambra State, pledging to ensure a peaceful and violence-free conduct of the election.
Organised by the Anambra State Police Command, and moderated by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, the peace accord signing held on Friday at the Command’s Headquarters in Amawbia, with candidates and representatives of five political parties present to sign the pact.
The political parties that have their representatives and/or candidates present during the exercise include the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP), the
Allied People’s Movement (APM), the Young People’s Party (YPP) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
Also present during the exercise were the representative of the Anambra State Government, representative of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the representative of the Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, as well as other senior officers of the Command.
Speaking at the event, the State Commissioner of Police, CP Echeng Echeng, represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Administration and Finance, DCP Peter Ozigi explained that peace accord was primarily aimed at binding the political parties and political actors in the state to play by the rule of the game, both before, during and after the election, towards ensuring the peaceful, secured, free, fair, and credible election.
While noting that the Command had had a similar engagements with the political actors and stakeholders in the state sometime in September last year; the CP further reassured the Command’s readiness for the election, as well as its commitment in maintaining and promoting internal peace in the state. He warned that anybody or group that indulges in any act capable of bridging the peace and security of the state will be lawfully dealt with.
“I also wish to sternly warn elements whose perception of democracy is the application of violence, to have a rethink, as Anambra State Police Command, under my watch, is committed to dealing firmly with such characters within the dictates of the law which is in furtherance to the Inspector-General of Police desire to bequeath a legacy of entrenched democratic values to our beloved nation,” he said.
Earlier speaking, the representative of the state government and Commissioner for Homeland Affairs, Mr. Chikaodiri Anara highlighted some of the efforts so far made by the state government, the security agencies, and the INEC towards ensuring a hitch-free election general election in the state, even as he called for sustenance and consolidation of those efforts, both before, during and after the election.
He commended the Anambra State Police Command and the INEC for their commitments, while also reassuring that the Soludo-led Anambra State Government will continue to play her own part, as peace and security, remain the topmost priority of his administration. He also urged the residents of the state to come out en masse and cast their votes in peace on the election day, without any fear.
On his own part, the representative of the Resident Electoral Commission in the state and Head of Department, Election and Party Monitoring (INEC Anambra), Mr. Emmanuel Isong reassured of the Commission’s preparedness to conduct free, fair, credible, and peaceful election, while also urging the stakeholders and political actors to allow the officials constitutionally discharge their assigned duties without any interference or intimidation.
Contributing, the representative of the Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers and Traditional Ruler of Umueri, Igwe Ben Emeka who commended the state police command for organising the exercise, however expressed dissatisfaction with the low turnout of political actors at the event despite having been duly invited.
While reminding the Anambra politicians that they are brothers and sisters, the monarch who noted that no blood of any indigene is worth shedding in the election, also advised them to abide by the peace accord they signed and to prevail on their supporters to be law abiding and stick to the rules of the game.
In a vote of thanks, the Deputy Director, Operations, Atiku-Okowa Campaign in Anambra State, Hon. Sir Ndubuisi Nwobu appreciated the police for deeming it necessary to organise the peace accord, while also expressing optimism that the exercise will go a long way in making the environment very conducive for INEC to discharge its duties effectively and for people to participate in the election peacefully without any form of violence.
An appeal was also made to the Anambra State Police Command to ensure that those parties and candidates who were absent at the event were also made to sign the peace pact.