The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Thursday rose from a crucial meeting and resolved that it would go ahead with the planned Saturday governorship election in Edo State in spite of the police postponement call on the election.
The commission said “the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) comprising more than seventy Civil Society Organisations, is in Benin-City to observe the Edo Governorship Election. “Situation Room expresses disappointment at reports that the Nigeria Police and Directorate of State Security (DSS) have advised INEC to postpone the Edo Governorship election scheduled for Saturday, 10th September 2016. “Situation Room considers this advice as a gratuitous and unconstitutional interference in the independence of INEC. The advice is in clear violation of S.160 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which forbids any person or authority from giving directives or seeking to control INEC – it being an independent body. “It is surprising that the police and DSS who are part of the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Elections Security (ICCES) together with INEC, did not formally brief INEC before issuing this contentious statement, to enable all key stakeholders review whatever security challenges the security services may claim to have arisen. “The “advice” by these security agencies has undermined public confidence in the conduct of the Edo state governorship poll. INEC now faces a more challenging task of assuring all parties that a revised poll can be properly organized within a constitutionally stipulated time frame. “We call on the police, DSS, and all security agencies to take note of their role and limitations within elections and the inter-agency co-ordination arrangements that have been developed over several years. “All elections must demonstrate the highest possible commitment from security services to support INEC in completing its constitutional role of organising credible elections that can inspire continued public confidence. Situation Room expresses its disappointment at the inability of security agencies to take charge and provide security to citizens and to INEC to enable it conduct free and fair elections.
“The present situation appears contrived and threatens to truncate the democratic process in Nigeria. “Additionally, the huge material resources committed to the preparations for the elections by INEC, CSOS and other stakeholders, appears to have been flushed down the drain by the action of the Police and the DSS. “Situation Room believes that INEC has the constitutional powers to proceed with its plans to conduct the Edo State Governorship elections as scheduled and calls on President Muhammadu BUHARI to call the Police and security services to order, as well as to give their support to INEC to deliver on its mandate of conducting free and fair Governorship elections in Edo State as scheduled.
“Situation room implores INEC to be guided by the provisions of the Electoral Act in relation to postponement, which states that all reasons must be cogent and verifiable. Finally, Situation Room calls on the people of Edo State to remain calm and vigilant and be ready to protect their constitutional rights to vote! “The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA). Others are Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than seventy.” Earlier the source in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told Sahara Reporters that the governorship election scheduled for September 10 in Edo state would be postponed. According to the source, the main reason for postponement is the security advice that was given by the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Security. Four national INEC commissioners and the Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu have not been able to get further information from the Inspector General of the Police and the Director General of the DSS as they have denied to give further information on the security threats that led to their advice.
The main electoral body is seriously considering demobilizing its staff and resources deployed for the poll. Nigerian police have stopped providing police personnel to assist INEC officials in distributing sensitive election materials since the security advice was given yesterday, the source said. The Department of State Services and Nigeria Police Force have on September 7, Wednesday, advised the INEC to shift the governorship election, quoiting security concerns as the reason for the request. The Peoples Democratic Party reacting to the calls for postponement of the electoral exercise has accused the APC of plotting to move the election due to fear of losing the poll.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who visited the state for the All Progressives Congress final mega rally on September 6, Tuesday, has congratulated Godwin Obaseki, the Edo APC governorship candidate in advance.