Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Governorship candidates in Abia State, Thursday, signed a peace accord to shun violence at the forthcoming polls.
This is the second time candidates would be signing a peace accord in the state.
Some of the candidates present at the event were Okey Ahiwe of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; his All Progressives Congress, APC, counterpart, Chief Ikechi Emenike; and Onyekwere Akym Uche (OAU), of the African Alliance, AA.
Others were Bishop Onuoha of ADC; Mascot Uzor Kalu of the Action Peoples Party, APP; Enyinnaya Nwafor of the Young Peoples Party.
Professor Greg Ibe of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, was represented by the Chairman of the party, Rev. Augustine Ehiemere; while the Chairman of the Labour Party, Igara, represented his candidate, Dr Alex Otti.
Heads of security agencies in the state including the Army, Navy, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense, the Road Safety Corps, and Immigration were also present.
Speaking at the event, Commissioner of Police, Abia State, Mr Mustapha Mohammed Bala, warned troublemakers and political thugs to stay away from the state.
Bala vowed to deal ruthlessly with anyone engaging in any activity capable of disrupting the forthcoming polls.
He urged the candidates to maintain peace and restrain their supporters from every form of violence.
“We are peacemakers and we are here for peace. Power belongs to God and he gives it to anyone he wants.
“Work harmoniously and support whoever that wins. Adopt the spirit of sportsmanship for the sake of peace.”
The police boss promised to provide conducive environment for the conduct of a credible poll.
Bala who noted that the postponement of the governorship poll would make for proper planning, urged the electoral umpire to be fair to all.
In a remark, the Administrative Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mr Clement Oha, re-assured of the preparedness of the commission to conduct a peaceful and credible poll in the state.
Oha who said that the presidential and national assembly elections in the state were peaceful, expressed optimism that the forthcoming ones would also be peaceful.
He acknowledged some of the challenges observed in the previous elections, saying that the postponement of the election would enable INEC “to get its acts well.”
The Administrative Secretary further noted that the commission had embarked on fresher course to retool its ad hoc staff for efficient service delivery.
In a remark, the State Chairman of Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, Mr Ceekay Igara, thanked security agencies in the state for organising the peace pact, urging all stakeholders to embrace peace.
He, however, tasked INEC on neutrality and fairness to all, saying that injustice is a precursor to violence.
“If you are fair to everybody and provide a level playing ground for all parties, and nobody perceives injustice, nobody will think of violence.”
Igara who strongly condemned all forms of violence urged all the candidates to advise their supporters on the need for peace.
Speaking on behalf of the candidates, the flag bearer of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, promised to abstain from every form of violence.
“Abia will be a reference point for peace,” he assured.