Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded presidential election, has bemoaned the intimidation and harassment of voters in Lagos state by some persons loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Atiku slammed the security agencies for failing to act and arrest those intimidating and threatening the electorate, describing it “criminal silence”.
“I have watched with profound disdain a certain video in circulation where some persons known to be associates of the leaders of the ruling party in Lagos State are issuing threats against other ethnic groups in the build-up to the Governorship and State House of Assembly election in the state tomorrow.
“I condemn this uncivilised behaviour and also condemn the criminal silence of the security agencies and the political leadership in Lagos State and Abuja on this development,” he said in a series of tweets via his verified Twitter handle @atiku on Friday evening.
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shifted the states election to March 18, the three-horse race between Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC, Olajide Adediran ‘Jandor’ of the PDP, and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP) has reached a feverish height.
With Mr Sanwo-Olu seeking a second term in Saturday’s election, many of his supporters have been huffing and puffing, threatening fire and brimstone against those who would vote against the governor.
On Thursday, a top APC operative, Musiliu ‘MC Oluomo’ Akinsanya, threatened the easterners (Igbos) in Lagos to stay away from the polling units if they would not vote Mr Sanwo-Olu in the weekend poll.
“We have begged them. If they don’t want to vote for us, it is not a fight. Tell them, mama Chukwudi, if you don’t want to vote for us, sit down at home. Sit down at home,” Mr Akinsanya, a notorious Lagos thug and leader of the motor parks management committee in the state, was caught saying in a viral video clip.
There have also been moves by political and traditional leaders to thwart the Saturday election by fixing traditional “Oro rites” before and after the election, a development that has attracted wide condemnation.
The thought and fear that Igbos in Lagos would be repeating the same feat recorded in the state during the presidential election where they voted massively for Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) by doing the same for the governorship candidate, Mr Rhodes-Vivour, in the exercise have sent the ruling party into an overdrive.
The LP candidate (Mr Obi) pulled a political surprise to beat former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu in his home turf.
Speaking further in his tweet, Mr Abubakar, said he was very concerned about how “lackeys of political leaders in Lagos” have unabatedly made ethnic slurs aimed at intimidating voters in the state in tomorrow’s election.
He also noted that it was important for political leaders across the country, especially Lagos to desist from actions that promote election violence, such that can compromise the peace, unity, and democracy of the country.
“Beyond that, I find it morally wrong and repugnant for political actors to make broad-day incitements against a particular ethnic bloc in an attempt to intimidate them from voting for their choice candidate.
“It is, therefore on this note, that I specifically call on security agencies in the country to ensure that politicians and their protégés submit to the rules of democratic fair-play across the country, especially in Lagos State, for the sake of decency and the promotion of peace and unity,” he added.
While stressing that it was not enough to talk about the promise of a free and fair election, Mr Abubakar stated that the actions that “we take prior to Election Day must have the integrity of a badge of honour.
“Every democracy is as virile as the culture of the electoral system that governs it. The democracy that we fought for and operate in Nigeria thrives on the principle of free and equal participation,” the PDP presidential candidate noted.
Political pundits, especially in Lagos have expressed fears that the Saturday election might lead to violence following threats on electorates.
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