Violence may mar the conduct of the Edo State elections billed for September, 19, 2020 if utmost care is not taken.
Already, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party are throwing in everything into the ring to ensure victory.
Saturday, supporters of both sides clashed at the Palace of the Oba of Benin where Governor Godwin Obaseki had gone to pay homage to the Royal Father of the Binis.
Gunshots were heard around the neighbourhood as men believed to be thugs swung into action and ordinary citizens ran for their lives.
Reports say vehicles were damaged during the clash while some people were reportedly injured, but no one has been reported dead.
Governor Nyesom Wike who led the campaign team to Edo urged party members as well as supporters of the party not to be afraid.
Although he made no reference to the clash around the Oba’s Palace, Wike vowed that no one would be able to rig the elections in September.
He said that ‘Godfatherism’ has been defeated in Edo and assured the people that Governor Obaseki who has done well in office would be returned eventually by popular vote.
Also speaking, Senator Douye Diri, Governor of Bayelsa State said the APC has shown that it has violence in its DNA.
He told the people how armoured tanks were deployed to his ward to intimidate him, but he said all that the Edo people are required to do is focus on the target.
Governor Obaseki accused the APC of openly engaging in violence when he opened his campaign.
He appealed to his supporters not to embrace violence, saying, “God will retaliate for us.”
National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus said in his contribution that the Edo election would prove whether or not the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to free and fair elections.
He said Nigerians were waiting to see what would happen even as he expressed optimism that Obaseki would win in the September elections.
Meanwhile, Adams Oshiomhole has stepped up his campaign effort to get Ize Iyamu elected on the platform of the APC.
Oshiomhole reportedly knelt down at the weekend at the venue of a rally where he begged Edo people to forgive him for bringing Obaseki on board as governor.
Incidentally, the former Governor of Edo State knelt down before the Binis who may have to decide who among their sons would receive their votes.
Spokesmen on both sides have taken to the media to trade blames over the incident at the Oba’s Palace, with the PDP claiming that Saturday’s attack was intended to hurt some of its leaders.
Kenneth Imasuagbon who spoke for the PDP accused the APC of taking violence to the walls of the Oba’s Palace.
He said the intention of the thugs allegedly deployed by the APC was to kill PDP leaders who had converged in Edo State at the start of the party’s campaign.
Samson Osagie of the APC countered the claim, saying that the plan of the PDP was to set up APC leaders for arrest.
He said that it was the PDP that started the fracas after APC members who were on a peaceful protest were harassed.
He wondered how APC members ended up with bullet wounds if truly they were behind the attempt to create violence.
Both men claimed that their candidates would win the next election.