Presidential candidates of the 18 political parties participating in the 25 February election on Wednesday signed a Peace Accord in Abuja.
Present at the signing of the Peace Accord were members of the National Peace Committee, as well as President Muhammadu Buhari.
In Kwara State, 14 political parties also signed a peace accord document in Ilorin, the state capital.
In Abuja, Mr Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party were among the presidential candidates in attendance at the ceremony.
By the text of the Peace Accord, presidential candidates make a commitment to “accept and abide by the outcome of the 2023 presidential election and if issues should arise”, to “deploy constitutional means and appeal to the courts rather than other unconstitutional means”.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan said that the Peace Accord is needed to deter candidates and their allies from using instruments of misinformation to influence the election.
Jonathan, whose speech was read by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to ensure that the election is credible.
“This is aimed at mitigating disinformation, and misinformation during the election and in the time of the social media era.
“There is no other time than now given the considerable tension in the country as a result of the election. The election is not war. The country needs a stable democracy. The world looks up to us to get our leadership right and leadership recruitment right”, Jonathan admonished.
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) advised the candidates to be “civil in their engagements”, adding that Nigeria is in need of a leader who is capable of “bringing and ensuring dividends of democracy to the doorsteps of the people.
“I appeal to those who are bent on disrupting the election to reconsider their actions, to give an opportunity for just and fair resolution to the problems at hand. I wish all Nigerians a peaceful election and smooth transition of government as we had last time”, he said.
In Ilorin, the signing of the Peace Accord at the INEC state office was witnessed by representatives of security agencies, international and local election observers, and the media.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Mallam Garba Attahiru Madami said the willingness of the political parties to voluntary sign the peace accord is a good thing.
He urged the political parties to abide by the content of the document.
The REC warned INEC staff that anyone found guilty of committing electoral offences would be handed over to security agencies for possible prosecution.
Madami assured all stakeholders of INEC’s readiness to deliver the best election in the state, and the country in general
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Paul Odama said that security agencies would ensure adequate security before, during and after the elections.
The state Deputy Chairman of Inter Party Advisory Council, Mr Shina Ajisafe spoke on behalf of the political parties, saying that all of them would comply strictly and adhere to the Peace Accord.