The Edo State Government on Friday urged Barrister Olumide Akpata, the Labour Party candidate for the September 21, 2024 governorship election, to focus on resolving the internal conflicts within his party rather than accusing the government of vandalizing his campaign billboards.

Chris Osa Nehikhare, the State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, made this statement in response to allegations made by Akpata during a press conference in Benin City. Akpata had accused the Edo State Government of allegedly sponsoring agents to destroy his campaign billboards across the state.

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The Labour Party in Edo State has been divided between factions led by Barrister Julius Abure, the National Chairman of the party, and Barrister Olumide Akpata, the governorship candidate. Akpata supports the dissolved state executives led by Kelly Ogbaloi, while Abure backs the newly inaugurated 17-member caretaker committee headed by Elizabeth Ativie, the former Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly.

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In his statement, Nehikhare encouraged Akpata to focus on addressing the internal issues within the Labour Party and work towards unity and stability. He also emphasized the importance of promoting a peaceful and inclusive electoral process for the benefit of all citizens.

The commissioner condemned any form of vandalism in the state and urged all parties involved to resolve such issues through proper channels. “We acknowledge the concerns raised by Mr. Olumide Akpata regarding the removal of his campaign billboard. While we understand Mr. Akpata’s frustration, we encourage him to engage with the relevant agencies responsible for the management of signage to settle any outstanding bills or disputes.

“Threats of violence or disobedience have no place in our democratic process, and all parties should conduct themselves with decorum and respect for the law.

“It is essential that we focus on constructive dialogue and peaceful engagement rather than resorting to tactics that may incite division or unrest.

“The government remains committed to upholding the rule of law and will address any disruptive behaviour, regardless of one’s status or affiliation,” he said.