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ECES, INEC, groups march for violence-free election in Bayelsa

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The European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the weekend joined non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and a Nollywood actor, in a sensitisation walk against electoral violence and other form of electoral malpractices.

The two-hour walk, which began at the Opolo junction of the Mbiama-Yenagoa Expressway, through Kpansia and ended at the Ekeki Park, enabled the commission to educate the residents on the evil of vote-buying, among others.

The ECES, with its headquarters in Brussels, had been in the forefront in the campaign against electoral violence, vote-buying and other electoral offences.

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The representative of ECES, Jennifer Dafwat, who led the over 10-kilometre walk for peace, said the walk was an opportunity to sensitise the electorate and tell them that their vote counts.

“One of the lies that have been perpetrated over time is that your vote won’t count. People can’t stay at home and vote, but we are fighting and pushing that people should come out and vote.

“Not just to vote but we are trying to change the narrative about violent elections in Bayelsa State because we know that it is possible to make a change. It is possible to change that narrative and that is what this entire walk and sensitisation forum is all about.

She, therefore, urged politicians to be honest to their mandate as it is not all about the campaign promises they made before the election but after the election.

Director, Voters Education and Publicity, INEC, Oluwale Osaze, in his remark said: “Election is not war and so, do not allow any politician to use you come next week Saturday because their children are not here.

“If they want to use you for violence, let their children be in front.

“We don’t want violence again, let everybody come out with their PVCs and vote quietly and peacefully.”

Also, the Chief Executive Officer of Girl Child and Reproductive Health Initiatives (GREP), Mrs. Rosemary Oweifawari, urged women to come out and vote without fear of molestation or intimidation.

She said: “This election is a time to exercise your franchise. If you have your PVC, go out to where you registered and cast your vote.

“It is your right to vote and any form of violence that you notice, please contact the toll free numbers.”

However, a Nollywood actor, Michael Godson, who also took part in the walk, urged Bayelsan youths to know and understand the power and importance of their vote, saying: “I am very excited to work with the commission towards promoting peace, and not violence. We have walked for two hours creating awareness and educating the youths towards a peaceful election.”

Meanwhile, YIAGA AFRICA, under the Watching the Vote (WTV) project, said it had concluded comprehensive election observation training for 1,077 citizen observers in both Kogi and Bayelsa states ahead of the November 16, 2019 governorship elections in both states.

YIAGA in a statement yesterday in Abuja by its Executive Director, Samson Itodo, said the body leveraged on the experience of its cohort of 48 master trainers who have conducted a series of training in previous elections from the Anambra 2017, Ekiti and Osun 2018 and 2019 general elections.

According to Itodo, the observers were trained on the essentials of election observation beginning from understating the election day process as provided in the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Manuals and Election guidelines, election day deployment, to the WTV observation methodology, using the observation forms and reporting and then guidelines/principles for election observation in line with the global principles of Global Network for Domestic Election Monitors.


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