The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has warned political actors in Edo state to desist from escalating tensions in the state ahead of the September gubernatorial election.
The CDD in its pre-election briefing said all political actors are in various ways contributing to unrest in the state as the election day draws nearer.
They complained about the exchange of verbal abuses, hate songs and chants by members of opposing parties in the state.
CDD also revealed that they found out about the stockpiling of small arms in preparation for violence, adding that there have been some cases of minor violence during campaigns.
The group called for issue-based campaigns that will reveal to the people of Edo, the best candidate and party.
CDD statement reads: “The CDD strongly condemns the attitude of political actors in Edo State, whose haphazard adherence to pandemic prevention guidelines was putting the lives of common citizens at risk.
“Close observation of recent campaign rallies by both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State showed the parties disregarding precautionary measures for COVID-19 prevention.
“CDD observers noted that while some campaign rallies in Benin City, which were televised to a national audience, observed protocols such as the wearing of face masks and the observance of social distancing, political rallies in small towns and rural areas have largely ignored these requirements.”
It called on the Independent and National Electoral Commission (INEC) to start the implementation of policies guiding the conduct of all political parties and candidates in electioneering campaigns.
While encouraging all election stakeholders to conduct voter education programmes that communicate procedures for conducting the polls during the COVID 19 to voters, it expressed worries that the struggle over the control of the Edo state house of assembly could further heighten tension in the state with the consequence of voter apathy.
In its recommendations, CDD, called for the enforcement of provisions of the electoral act and for the law to properly deal with those that violates them.