By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has called for peaceful and orderly conduct during the rerun legislative elections in Rivers on Saturday.
The elections are to be held in 21 constituencies, made up of three senatorial districts, eight Federal constituencies and 10 state constituencies.
The president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, conveyed his message in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
Buhari urged the political parties, candidates and other stakeholders to ensure the polls were conducted without rigging, violence and intimidation of opponents and electoral officials.
He reminded politicians and their supporters in Rivers to put “the higher interest of the people of the state in mind, as they go to the polls on Saturday.
“The rerun elections should not be seen as a do-or-die to the extent that people will be killed, maimed and property destroyed in a mindless display of crude primitive instincts.”
Buhari said innocent blood should never be sacrificed on the altar of political contest for temporary power.
He urged security and law enforcement agencies to exhibit professionalism and non-partisanship in the discharge of their constitutional duties even in the face of extreme provocation.
He also directed them to deal decisively with trouble-makers and those bent on violating the sanctity of the electoral process.
The president also enjoined the Independent National Electoral Commission to do all within its powers to give transparency and fairness to the electoral exercise in Rivers.
He restated the commitment of his administration to deepening democracy in the country by enthroning a legacy of respect for the wishes of the people through free, fair and credible elections devoid of intimidation and violence.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the rerun elections were ordered by the court, which nullified the polls held in 2015 because of electoral malpractice.
An earlier attempt to hold the elections in March was stalled by violence which led to the death of a National Youth Service Corps member, served as an ad hoc electoral officer.
Since the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly on June 9, 2015, Rivers has not had representation because of the non-conclusion of the legislative polls.