…Alleges mounting tensions.
by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Ahead of the 11th March Governorship and State Assembly elections, Kaduna State Elections Monitoring Committee has called on the State Police Command and other security agencies to quickly initiate actions to stop incitements and provocation in the state.
The committee also cautioned and appealed to Kaduna State Peace Commission, the National Orientation Agency, sister agencies, faith-based and civil society organisations to engage with the citizens of the State to calm the current tensions so as to ensure reversal to issue-based campaigns.
Executive Vice Chairman of the Peace Commission, Dr. Saleh B. Momale, gave the warnings, while briefing newsmen on behalf of the committee at the commission’s office in Kaduna on Tuesday.
Dr. Momale, who was in company of representatives of 17 other organizations, including Nigeria Police, DSS, and NSCDC, said “On the ongoing campaigns for the Governorship and House of Assembly elections, the Committee noted the desperation by politicians and their supporters, who are now deepening the ethnic and religious divisions in the State.”
He said the negative role of some religious scholars and preachers, who are engaging in the endorsement of political parties and candidates in places of worship, is further polarising the polity.
According to him, the committee noted the growing use of hate speech and divisive messages in some of the media organisations that is heightening tensions in the State.
He said they “Noted with dismay the alarming increase in the use of social media platforms to broadcast hate speech and fake news; the potential threats in many communities over the risk of recruiting young people to cause commotion and disrupt the peaceful conduct of the elections.
“The Committee, as a matter of urgency, cautions and appeals to all candidates vying for elective positions in the state, especially the gubernatorial candidates to make public statements committing to non-violence elections and renouncing all forms of provocation and incitements, including the use of hateful rhetoric, made by others in their names.
“All political parties and their supporters are to henceforth stop hateful campaigns and incitements; the Kaduna State Police Command and other security agencies to immediately initiate actions that will stop incitements and provocation,” they advised.
Earlier, he said they held a review meeting of the Presidential and National Assembly elections and assessed the ongoing campaigns of the forthcoming Governorship and State Assembly elections.
While the committee expressed appreciation to various stakeholders for their positive roles during the 25th February elections for ensuring a peaceful atmosphere of election conduct, it urged the citizens to equally sustain the positive actions on 11th March elections.
According to committee, INEC is addressing lapses associated with last elections to ensure hitch-free and transparent 11th March elections.
Dr. Momale also advised that Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) should issue a joint press statement appealing to religious leaders to henceforth stop using places of worship as avenues for campaigns and endorsing candidates.
“They should also extend this appeal to clerics outside Kaduna State, who are engaged in endorsing candidates and inciting the citizenry in the States.
“The people of the State, especially the youths, should refuse to engage in thuggery and other unwholesome activities that will negatively affect the elections and cause election violence,” he said.