No fewer than eight governorship candidates in Abia State, including Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, and two senatorial candidates on Monday signed a peace accord to ensure a violence-free general elections in the state.
The event which took place in Umuahia, the state capital was organised by Hope Givers Initiative, a civil society organisation (CSO), in collaboration with Vision Africa, an Umuahia-based private radio station, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abia State.
In an address of welcome, Sunday Onuoha, the President of Vision Africa, called on the political parties to remain committed to the prosperity and unity of the state in their quest to govern the state.
Mr Onuoha said signing the peace accord would prove the readiness of the canditates and their supporters to accept the outcome of the elections.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Joseph Iloh, said to sustain the prevailing peace in the state before, during and after the polls, required the full cooperation of all the candidates and their supporters.
Mr Iloh charged the party supporters to emulate the friendly and peaceful disposition of their principals and embrace peace during the exercise.
He gave the assurance that the commission would provide a level, playing field for all the political parties and their candidates.
The Commissioner of Police, Eden Okon, said the command had put necessary measures in place to ensure adequate security during the polls.
Mr Okon, represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Godwin Akoh, said, “We have enough security on ground. Nobody should be afraid or feel threatened, because police are ready and prepared to protect Nigerians during the elections.’’
The Executive Director of HGI, Onyeka Udegbunam, urged political parties and the candidates to educate their supporters on the need to shun acts capable of disrupting the peaceful conduct of the polls.
“We are here to ensure that candidates and their parties agree to support the conduct of the general elections in a peaceful environment,” Mrs Udegbunam said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governorship candidates included Mr Ikpeazu (PDP), Uche Ogah (APC) and Alex Otti (APGA).
Others were Blessing Nwagba (SDP), Fortus Okoronkwo (PPC) and Kelenna Ogbonna (ADC).
NAN also reports that two senatorial candidates, Chidi Nweke of Rebuild Nigeria and Kingsley Okoronkwo of Accord Party also took part in the peace accord.
In their separate speeches, the candidates expressed their readiness to abide by the peace accord during the polls.
Mr Ikpeazu said, “It is my desire and sincere wish that no single blood will be spilled during this election.
“I have express faith in the Prof. Yakubu-led INEC and the capacity of our REC to do the needful to ensure that nobody was allowed to do away with the result sheet.’’
Mr Ogah said he had the interest of the people of Abia at heart and would continue to contribute to the growth of the state.
“I am a man who stands for peace. We will ensure that the activities of my supporters are governed by peace.”
Mr Otti also, spoke in a similar vein, saying that he believed in peace and would do everything within his power to maintain peace and unity in Abia.
He said, “I call on my fellow candidates that have appended their signature to be honest to execute what we have signed.”
Messrs Nweke and Okoronkwo also pledged their commitment to the peace accord and hoped that the elections would be free, fair and peaceful in order to ensure good governance and rapid development of the state.