By G9ija

On Thursday, the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Peter Uwadiae, released a statement accusing the state government of planning to employ its Edo State Vigilante Network to coerce the opposition and tamper with the upcoming elections set for Saturday.

The APC chapter in Edo State claims that this move by the government is an attempt to sway the election results in their favor.

The party alleged that there was a secret move by Governor Godwin Obaseki to use the Edo State Vigilante Network to “intimidate, harass and cause mayhem during and after the elections, particularly in the rural areas of the state.”

It said, “It must be noted with serious concern that the Electoral Act 2022 did not and never envisaged the use of vigilante personnel for security duties during elections. For the avoidance of doubt, the only security agents contemplated in the Act for security duties during elections is the Nigeria Police Force.”

According to the Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, the allegation made by the APC regarding the use of the Edo State Vigilante Network to manipulate the elections is a false alarm.

Nehikhare refuted the claim made by the APC and stated that the government is committed to ensuring that the elections are free and fair, without any form of intimidation or manipulation.

He said, “How can we be accused of such an intention in an election that we are going to win? The APC just sit down and cook up stories; they don’t have evidence to back up their claim, besides we are so confident we are going to win. Why should we disrupt an election that we are going to win?”

The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, said, “We have said it that there is no quasi-security outfit that will participate in the election; only the Nigeria Police and other sister security agencies (are allowed by law).”

In a press briefing on the topic of “The 2023 Presidential Elections and Possible Impact on Businesses in Nigeria,” the Managing Director of the Edo State Investment Promotion Office, Kelvin Uwaibi, called on various stakeholders to work together to ensure that the February and March elections are conducted in a peaceful and credible manner.

Uwaibi specifically urged the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Federal Government to collaborate closely in order to achieve this goal.