BENIN CITY – Fourteen political parties and candidates contesting in Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State, on Tuesday, signed a peace accord with a pledge to eschew violence before, during and after the gubernatorial election in the state.

The peace deal was organised in Benin City by the National Peace Committee chaired by former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar and co-convened by Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah.

The Edo State Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Godwin Obaseki, shortly after signing the peace accord, urged eligible voters to come out en masse to vote for the PDP to enable him consolidate on his achievements in the first term, assuring of a peaceful and violence-free election in the state.

According to the governor, “To get all the contestants to sign a peace accord ahead of the election is to ensure that there is peace and a violence-free election in Edo State. Myself as a candidate and my party are fully committed to ensuring that we have peace and a violence-free election.

“In addition to being a candidate, I am also the Chief Security Officer of the state. I want to commit publicly once again that we are committed to peace in our dear state.”

“Let me appeal to this National Peace Committee to extend the same to some non-state actors in the state who have influenced the political space in the state. If you cannot reach out to them to sign a peace accord, persuade them on the importance of peace in our state,” Obaseki charged.

Chairman of the peace committee, Abubakar, appealed to all eligible voters in Edo to desist from selling their votes but come out without fear to elect the candidate of their choice.

He said: “We have been assured by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, that the election will be free, fair and credible.

“He said that they are ready with all the necessary logistics and they will conduct a free election. Having heard that from the INEC boss, the rest is left for the voters to do what is right by desisting from selling your votes, thereby selling your rights, freedom and conscience.”

“Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has assured that the police are fully on ground to ensure peace and tranquility before, during and after the election,” Abubakar noted.

Co-convener of the meeting, Bishop Kukah said: “The signing of the peace accord should not be seen as a mere ceremony. For me as a priest, I am seeing it as an exchange of vows and that you are committing yourselves. It’s a trust you have taken upon yourselves.

“We’ve come here to support you; we hope and pray that the days ahead will be peaceful, and that the election in the state will be free, fair and credible and also very peaceful. Our prayers and our hope is that this election will be one of the most peaceful elections conducted in Edo.”