Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties and candidates participating in the September 19 Edo and October 10 Ondo governorship elections the polls have strict constitutional and statutory timelines that should not be derailed.
It insisted that any act of violence can disrupt the election timelines and create a constitutional crisis.
It’s National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement threatened to sanction candidates and political parties sponsoring violence.
It also cautioned that candidates “must on no account underestimate the resolve of the Commission to enforce the rules and regulations and apply appropriate sanctions against those who choose to break them”.
INEC added: “Commission remains determined to conduct peaceful elections in the two States and in the outstanding National and State Assembly bye-elections.
“Political parties must realise that Edo and Ondo Governorship elections are taking place at a time of a global pandemic and the Commission is working assiduously to observe and comply with all health and safety protocols issued by the Commission and health authorities.
“With the pandemic taking its toll on the citizenry, the people of Edo and Ondo States must be saved from the added burden of violent and raucous elections.
“Political Parties must remember that Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines and threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis.
“Going forward, the Commission will work with and collaborate with the security agencies to contain all incidents or threats of violence before and during the elections.
“Regulatory agencies with roles in the elections, especially those dealing with insecurity, hate speech and abuse of mass media, must step up their activities and ensure that all those that break the law are held to account.
“The Commission wishes to reassure the people of Edo and Ondo States of its determination to conduct credible and safe elections in the two states.
“The Commission shall not hesitate to discontinue the process should the actions of political actors lead to cogent and verifiable threat and/or breakdown of law and order before or during the elections”.