Aregbesola urges de-militarisation of elections

GOVERVOR Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state has  urged the Federal Government not to militarise the February general elections as a panacea for effective and peaceful participation by Nigerians.

    Speaking at a one-day sensitization workshop organized by the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM)  on Proliferation of Small arms and light Weapons in Nigeria in collaboration with the Osun State Government, Aregbesola  stressed the need for level playing ground for all political parties.

   Represented by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Gbenga Adebusuyi,the governor said since election is mainly a civil exercise, the ruling party must not allow rule of law to prevail in all  activities concerned with the election.

   Aregbesola who spoke on the theme, “Ballot Without Bullets”, said “if we all want ballots and not bullets, there must be a level playing field for all the political parties. The system must not permit members of the ruling party to behave like outlaws.

   “We are on the march again. Elections are here. The state must also de-escalate and de-militarise elections. If we take out these two factors, we will be able to clean our streets and communities of small arms and light weapons. Then, our elections will be free of violence”

   He recalled that the August 9, 2014 governorship election in the Osun  was conducted in an atmosphere of  impunity adding “the heavy deployment of the military to the state before, during and after the election was criminal and absurd”.

    He noted that the large presence gun- wielding security agents deployed to the state with intent to intimidate and drive fear into the citizens had negative effect on the exercise but the uncommon courage displayed by the people gave the election legitimacy.

   He alleged many of the security operatives  deployed to Osun have been found to be fake embedded into regular forces by the politicians in control of the agencies.

    He said,“In 2007, after my opponent was declared the winner, huge crowds trooped to the streets in protest. Regrettably, they were gunned down in broad daylight by security agencies. A year later, more than 100 corpses were unclaimed at the various morgues in the state. These massacres were carried out by government security agencies and fakes either embedded within state troops or acting independently and freely.

    In his contribution, a member of the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM), Ambassador Layiwola Laseino expressed concern that .the nation lacked data base on the number of weaponry with all security agencies saying that such development is an invitation to anarchy and crisis.

  He therefore called for check on proliferation and arbitrary use of weapons and arms by politicians, thugs as well as other security agencies before, during and after the exercise.

Participants at the forum were drawn from Lagos and Ogun states as well as other stakeholders including Independent National Electoral Commission {INEC}, security agencies, youth representatives, the umpire, Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Christian organisations, National Orientation and Agencies (NOA).

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