An election monitoring group, YIAGA Africa, says the APC and the PDP have engaged in a campaign of calumny and mudslinging ahead of the Edo Sept. 19 Governorship poll.

The group made the observation in a statement issued by the Executive Director, Samson Itodo on Tuesday in Benin.

It said that it was unfortunate that both parties had reduced their campaigns to contest of personalities rather than make the campaigns issue-based to win the people’s votes.

YIAGA Africa Watching The Votes (WTV’s) said the APC and the PDP were the most dominant of the 14 political parties that registered for the election.

It noted that the analysis was part of Yiaga Africa WTV’s first pre-election observation in the state.

“YIAGA Africa deployed long term observers throughout the state to observe the pre-election environment and monitor government responses to COVID-19 in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

“This pre-election observation includes violence monitoring as part of an early warning system designed to prevent electoral violence and track the prevalence of human rights violations, particularly in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The findings from the 18 local government areas revealed that political campaigns appear to be dominated by PDP and APC.

“The WTV long term observers reported incidences of violent verbal and physical attacks, identity-based violence and hate speech rhetorics as campaign strategies employed by both parties.

“The observers also reported the repositioning of cult groups as political merchandise for the election as well as sexual and gender-based violence in some of the LGAs in the state,” it stated.

According to the group, while INEC activities for the election have begun in earnest, it is conducting very little voter education, especially on the new voter’s code of conduct for elections during COVID-19. YIAGA Africa explained that findings also revealed that women and youths were actively engaged in the political party campaigns process across the state.

It, however, lamented the spate of pre-election violence adding that the two dominant parties in the race were guilty of violent rhetoric, hate speech, vandalism, and violence.

“The state is also witnessing a surge in cult group activities, especially in Ikpoba-Okha, Oredo, Orhionmwon, and Owan West LGAs.
“This is mainly attributable to an entrenched subculture of violence built around well-known strongmen in these areas,” it added.

NAN