Soon after similar threat from the United States, the United Kingdom on Tuesday vowed to seize overseas assets of electoral offenders in the upcoming governorship polls in Edo and Ondo states.
The surge of overseas threats is coming on the heels of persistent electoral violations in Nigeria which have failed to diminish over the years.
In a statement through its Twitter handle, the UK said it would send observers to the elections in the two states which come up this month and October.
Part of the statement read: “As a friend and partner of Nigeria we are closely following the lead up to the off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19 and October 10, respectively.
“These elections are important, both as an essential element of effective governance within both states and an indicator of the strength of Nigeria’s democratic institutions.
“We will be deploying observation missions to both the Edo and Ondo elections and supporting civil society led observation.
“The UK takes a strong stand against election-related violence and, just as we did in the general election in 2019, will continue to take action against individuals we identify as being responsible for violence during the elections.
“This could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK based assets or prosecution under international law.
“The UK will continue to provide support and engagement as we move towards these elections. We urge INEC, the Police and all other agencies involved to work together to deliver free, fair and credible elections.”
The statement stated that Catriona Laing, UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, had met with leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during which she called for a hitch-free election.
“The discussions focused on the need for the parties’ leaders to prevail on supporters to avoid violence before and after the elections,” the statement read.
“And we welcome the Edo candidates’ signature of the National Peace Committee and INEC convened peace accord,” it said.
Meanwhile, Godwin Obaseki, Edo State governor and Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) governorship candidate in Saturday’s election; his main challenger, Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and other candidates for the election on Tuesday signed peace accord and pledged to embrace peace irrespective of the election outcome.
The peace accord signed by the 14 candidates contesting the Edo governorship election was organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC).
Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Head of State and the chairman of NPC, while addressing the contestants, urged all stakeholders to commit to the spirit of the accord.
“As we go into the election, we have been given assurance by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that they will conduct free, fair and credible election. The rest is left for the voters to do what is right.
“We, therefore, call on everyone to work towards peaceful election to ensure peace reigns during and after the election.”
Gov. Godwin Obaseki, in his remarks, appealed to the peace committee to extend the accord to other actors who have influence in the political space to ensure that the exercise is complete.
Obaseki, who restated his commitment to ensuring peaceful poll, added that he would lead by example.
“I am grateful to the Independent National Electoral Commission, police and the Oba of Benin.
“Today, we agree that a unique type of history has been made in Edo State where all contestants sign the peace accord for a violence-free election. As the chief security officer, I have no choice than to ensure peace reigns,” he said.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu, on his part, promised to talk to his supporters to conduct themselves in a bid to achieve peaceful poll.
“We are grateful to the peace committee, INEC and the police. We are also grateful to the Oba of Benin because what we are witnessing today was actually initiated few weeks ago.”
Earlier, the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for the assistance in ensuring peaceful poll in Edo.
Represented by the Esogban of Benin, Solomon Edebiri, he appealed to Edo sons to shun violence, noting that when two people contest, only one emerges as winner.
We’re Sure Of Victory, Obaseki Assures, Rounds Off Campaign
Again, Godwin Obaseki, Edo State governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Tuesday, declared that with the support of Edo people and endorsements by over 100 groups in the state, he is certain of victory in Saturday’s gubernatorial election in the state.
The governor, who gave the assurance at the final reelection campaign rally in Benin City, urged eligible voters in the state to come out en masse to vote the PDP to enable him consolidate on the achievements recorded in his first term and put an end to godfatherism in the state.
Present at the rally were former vice presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general elections, Mr. Peter Obi; Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Chairman, South-South Governors’ Forum and Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; Governors Nyesom Wike, Seyi Makinde, Ben Ayade, Duoye Diri, Victor Ikpeazu, Udom Emmanuel of Rivers, Oyo, Cross-Rivers, Bayelsa, Abia, Akwa Ibom states, respectively, among other dignitaries.
According to Obaseki, “I don’t have anything to say to you my Edo people but to thank you; you have been wonderful especially as we went through the 192 wards to seek your support for reelection.
“We will win this election because so far over 100 groups have endorsed me for the race. With groups like the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), National Union of Pensioners (NUP) and other groups in the state behind me, tell me how we will lose the election?”
Continuing, Obaseki said: “Democracy is not a government of godfathers but a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In Edo we have been fighting godfatherism and by Saturday we will put an end to it, and after that go to Lagos and put an end to godfatherism in Nigeria.
“The godfather disturbing Nigeria came up this morning, he is afraid because he knows when we finish that of Edo, we will come for him in Lagos and finally end godfatherism in Nigeria”.
On his part, Tambuwal urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to ensure the conduct of a free, fair and credible poll in the state.
He said: “I learnt they are coming to Edo with a bullion van; don’t sell your votes; vote and protect your votes.
“I am appealing to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free, fair and credible election. I also want to appeal to all the security agencies not to intimidate anybody on election day. Even when you are being intimidated, don’t run home, stay back and protect your votes.”
Meanwhile, Okowa noted: “This is the first time a governor went round from ward-to-ward to campaign. As you vote, remain vigilant and shine your eyes. No one can cheat the majority. Edo will not be left out; all South- South states are PDP, so we don’t want anybody to cheat on us.”
Also, Governor Wike said: “If we must fight and put an end to godfatherism in Nigeria, it must start on Saturday in Edo State. The IGP has assured us of a secure election in Edo and the INEC chairman has also assured Edo people of a free, fair and credible election but don’t let us go and sleep with all these promises but stay awake and be vigilant and ensure that Obaseki wins.
“Obaseki must be voted for, to bring an end to godfatherism in Nigeria. The Edo election is important as it will show the way out to eliminate godfatherism in Nigeria.”
Tinubu, Obaseki Trade Words Over Edo Governorship Poll
In another development, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor and national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and Governor Godwin Obaseki, Edo State governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Tuesday, traded words over issues surrounding this weekend’s governorship election in the state.
Tinubu, who has not hidden his support for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the APC candidate, fired the first salvo when he advised the people of Edo to reject the governor at the poll.
Describing Obaseki as a dictator, who does not cherish democratic norms, Tinubu the in broadcast said the governor does not deserve the votes of the people on Saturday.
Narrating how he suffered along with many others to gain democracy for Nigeria, Tinubu said while he was taking part in the democratic struggle in the 1990s, Obaseki was nowhere to be found hence the governor’s inability to appreciate democratic institutions.
“I want to appeal as a committed democrat and a leader of all democrats to our conscience and commitment to democracy, on the forthcoming election in Edo State, to reject Godwin Obaseki in this coming election.
“I have suffered with many others to bring about this democratic regime, that today, we are enjoying in the country. Then, Godwin Obaseki didn’t participate in any aspect of the struggle to enshrine democracy in the country. Therefore, he could not understand the value and the pains associated with this democratic struggle.”
Speaking further, Tinubu who said Obaseki prevented 14 of the 24 elected state lawmakers from being inaugurated, called on the people of Edo State to punish him with their votes for denying them representation for four years.
He said Obaseki refused to take the advice of the National Assembly and the Attorney-General of the Federation to let the 14 members of the House of Assembly be inaugurated.
Tinubu said rather than let them be inaugurated, Obaseki supervised the destruction of the House of Assembly complex all in a bid to prevent them from being sworn-in.
The APC chieftain added, “He demonstrated the act of dictatorship, lack of respect for rule of law, lack of respect for you the people who voted for those legislators prevented from being sworn-in. Today, he now comes back as a democrat wanting you to vote for him. Please, I appeal to you, reject him.
“Several institutions and leaders of our country appealed to him to respect constitutional democracy but he rejected all entreaties. He rejected the appeal of the National Assembly.
“When the Attorney-General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria enumerated the path of honour and the constitution of the country, rather than obey and respect the law, he vandalised the House of Assembly in Edo by removing the roofs, burning gravels and rocks at the entrance of the House of Assembly only to prevent these 14 members from being sworn-in. Now, he is asking for our votes, your votes, our dear people. Is he a democrat? No, he is not.”
However in his response, Obaseki in a statement by Crusoe Osagie, his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, said that Tinubu’s plans to extend his political empire to Edo State will fail on Saturday as the people of the state are determined to end godfatherism.
The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to a television broadcast in which a former Lagos State governor and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his quest to extend his political dominance and empire to Edo State, decided to take over the role of Edo people to choose through the ballot who to govern them for the next four years.
“It has become obvious that the spirited fight which Edo people have put up against godfatherism has sent tremors beyond the shores of Edo.”
Stressing that Edo people are committed to ending godfatherism in the state, he said: “Tinubu knows clearly that come September 19, when godfatherism would have been dismantled in Edo State, the people of Lagos may just have found the recipe and formula for removing the chokehold placed on their collective destinies for decades, hence the inciting television broadcast.
“He should take note that Edo people do not yield their will, liberty and power of choice to oppressive figures because they are perceived to have economic and political means. Like one of the great sons of Edo, former governor and former national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, recently said, our people do not give in to ‘primitive loyalties.’ We always chase noble causes and a little study of our history should show Tinubu the indomitable spirit of the Edo person.
“Edo stands in the heart of the old Midwestern region, which was the only region created through plebiscite, which underscores our capacity to determine our destiny as a people. The blood which ran in the veins of the leaders of that time is still the same that runs in the vein of the leaders of Edo State today.”
Continuing, he said, “We call on all Edo people, friends of Nigeria and all lovers of democracy to disregard all the comments by Tinubu, as the allegations about the Edo State House of Assembly and other claims in the broadcast are completely false.
“We urge the irrepressible people of Edo State to disregard the threats and come out en masse on September 19 to vote for Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as their voice and vote are supreme in the governorship contest.”
He maintained that “the outcome of next Saturday’s election would reinforce the reigning saying in Edo’s public sphere, Edo no be Lagos, and provide for the people of Lagos a template to dislodge godfatherism as well as set the stage for the realisation of the full potentials of Lagos, which Lagosians have been denied of for decades.”