Prof. Godswill Obioma, the Resident Electoral Commission (REC) in Ebonyi, has warned politicians to shun the use of hate speech during electioneering for the 2019 general elections.
Obioma gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abakaliki.
Obioma said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ebonyi had put necessary strategies in place for credible, smooth, peaceful, transparent and violence-free elections in the state.
He said that politicians, especially candidates vying for elective positions, should refrain from acts that were capable of generating violence and breach of the public peace during campaigns.
The REC said that the commission had a responsibility to advise political office seekers to engage in issue-based campaigns.
According to Obioma, all manner of hate speeches, inflammatory comments and campaigns of calumny should be avoided.
Citing relevant sections of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended and political parties’ code of conduct, the REC urged political parties, candidates and their supporters to campaign within the ambit of the law.
He said: “Political parties are advised to avoid violence-prone campaigns, laced with hate tendencies capable of fanning the embers of disunity, chaos, extremism and bigotry.
“Political parties, candidates and supporters are to work toward ensuring an environment conducive to successful, peaceful, free and fair campaigns.
“All political parties fielding candidates for the elections shall take necessary steps to coordinate their campaigns in a manner as to avoid holding rallies, meetings, processions or demonstrations close to one another at the same time.
“It is incumbent on political party leaders, their candidates and supporters to conduct themselves in an orderly manner during campaigns to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order before, during and after campaigns,” Obioma said.
He further urged political parties to adhere to lay down procedures, laws, rules and regulations guiding political campaigns.
The REC advised them to sell their programmes and manifestos to the electorate in a peaceful and orderly manner.
He warned them against the use of political thugs to disrupt the campaigns of rival political parties.
The REC warned politicians against indulging in vote buying, saying that the commission would prosecute anyone caught violating laws on electioneering.
He said that the act of vote selling and vote buying could lead to the emergence of unqualified, non credible leaders and called for concerted efforts to check the menace.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that campaigns for presidential, National Assembly, governorship and state House of Assembly elections had commenced throughout the country.