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Elections: Groups lament intimidation of CSOs, Media in Cross River

Some Civil Society organisations have accused Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, of using security operatives to harass and intimidate members of the civil society…

Some Civil Society organisations have accused Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, of using security operatives to harass and intimidate members of the civil society organisations and media ahead of February 26, 2022, the legislative by-election in the state.

The CSOs asked the governor to lift the ban placed on the CSOs and open up the civil space.

The group disclosed this on Friday in Abuja at a press conference jointly addressed by the Executive Director, Tap Initiative For Citizens Development, Martin Obono and Executive Director, Adopt A Goal Development Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye.

They called on the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, to prevail on his officers not to be used to truncate democracy in the state and country as a whole.

The groups said the purpose of elections in any part of the world is to give citizens the opportunity to freely choose those who will govern them without any interference.

They called on the governor to allow the will of the people to prevail and desist from further interference in the process.

According to Obono, the right to vote is sacred and it must be respected by the Governor of Cross River State, the Nigerian Police Force and all other security agencies responsible for conducting a free, fair and peaceful election.

“Recently, the state government headed by Governor Ayade banned activities by civil society organizations in Cross River. This is a deliberate attempt to close the civic space in the state contrary to Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We have noticed a further decline in democratic participation in the state as the government of Cross River State consistently uses MOPOL 75 to brutalise women who protested bare chest the usurpation of their farmland.

“Despite many calls for the governor to set up an inquiry into this matter, he has paid deaf ears.

“We also want to use this opportunity to call on the Inspector General of police to caution his men on election duty to maintain the highest level of professionalism in their conduct.

“We also want to use this medium to ask the IGP to maintain a level of stability in the way he deploys and redeploys Commissioner of police in the state as this singular act negatively impacts security stability in the state.

“Therefore, as the state prepares for the February 26, 2022, legislative bye-election and the 2023 elections, we call on the rank and file of the Nigerian Police Force to desist from involving itself in activities that will destabilise the progress made in democratic processes so far,” Obono said.

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