The Department of State Services (DSS) has warned against comments intended to bring disharmony ahead of the Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo governorship elections.
The service also accused several influential people and leaders of non-governmental groups both inside and outside the country of making such remarks.
According to a statement issued on Thursday by Peter Afunanyo, the Director, Public Relations and Strategic Communications of the DSS, the agency noted that such comments would incite resentment among individuals and would be detrimental to the nation.
It read, “The DSS has observed rising trends and patterns of incendiary comments by some personalities of influence and representatives of non-governmental entities within and outside the country. Such statements run against public peace and harmony.
“It is strongly believed that a resort to acerbic pronouncements by certain persons will not only heat up the polity but set the ground for deep-seated animosities and divisions among the populace. Also, it serves the country no good if its citizens, whether at home or abroad, demarket or subvert her through misleading and false narratives.
“With the elections and the attendant contentions legally over, it is expected that we should forge ahead in nation-building without rancour or acrimony. This is against the backdrop that reckless rhetoric has the capacity to lead to social unrest and instability, which can put the country’s well-being and the general safety of citizens at risk”.
Afunanya also encouraged supporters and politicians to avoid actions that could jeopardize the election’s peaceful conduct.
He said, “Similarly, the Service urges key players and their supporters in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa States to conform to the rules of engagement and specifically the electoral law during the November 11, 2023, gubernatorial elections in the areas. The aim is to avert situations likely to undermine the processes. So far, the Service has substantially liaised with INEC, sister security agencies, and relevant NGOs to ensure hitch-free exercises in the affected states.
As a result, the DSS encourages all stakeholders, regardless of political affiliations or complaints, to engage in courteous and constructive interactions that foster communal understanding.
“It has thus become imperative that public commentaries shift towards unity and peace necessary for national development and security. This should be our shared responsibility and indeed the priority of everyone,” the DSS noted.
The DSS further called on the media and NGOs to avoid actions that could cause a breakdown of law and order.
“Those on election duties, including the media and civil society, are encouraged to avoid things that will inflame sentiments and cause a breakdown of law and order. Broadcast and monitoring activities should be devoid of manipulation. Stakeholders are enjoined to note that politics should not be used to destroy the country or any part of it. ”
He did, however, promise that people or groups planning to commit criminal acts during the election would face consequences.
“However, individuals or groups that may decide to engage in illegitimate acts or inimical conducts against public order will be decisively dealt with as dictated by the law. Forewarned is forearmed.
“Consequently, citizens are encouraged to be patriotic as well as recognize that our loyalty and love to the nation should transcend individual or parochial interests. Everyone is called upon to eschew bitterness and promote dialogue that contributes to the progress of the nation. Together, we can build a stronger and more secure future for our beloved country,” the statement added.