…As National Peace Committee engages stakeholders in Abuja
By Joseph Erunke
AHEAD of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has vowed to ensure that officers and men of the force deployed for the election uphold the standard requirements for a peaceful and credible election.
In a similar circumstance, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while vowing that the Edo election will go ahead as scheduled without postponement, said the commission had begun investigation to unravel the source of Thursday’s fire incident in its Ondo State’s office where some Card Readers were reportedly burnt.
Both spoke in Abuja, Friday, at a meeting the National Peace Committee held with stakeholders in Edo governorship election.
Adamu, represented by Leke Oyebode, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Research and Documentation but in charge of Edo election, insisted that police officers deployed for the election will be guided by the Police Code of Conduct.
According to him, “the Inspector General of Police has advised the officers and men deployed for the special assignment to abide by the Nigerian Police Code of Conduct. The Nigerian Police Force has a well-articulated Code of Conduct to ensure that Police Officers do the needful during their assignment at the election duties”.
He assured that the Police is ready to ensure a peaceful election, adding that “nobody can stand on the way of this election”.
On his part,the INEC boss assured that the Ondo State governorship poll will still go ahead as slated, despite the fire incident that burnt the Card Readers meant for the October 10 election.
Prof. Yakubu said that the 5100 Card Readers programmed for use for the election were razed in the inferno that broke out on Thursday night.
He said that investigation is on to unravel the cause of the fire.
According to him,”We received the sad news last night of fire incident involving the container housing the Smart Card Readers. Let me give you a few statistics, we required 4100 Smart Card Readers for the Ondo election and additional 100 for training so that the Adhoc Staff are properly trained using the Smart Card Reader. So we got 1000 Card Readers from our office in Osun State.
“So we had 5100 Smart Card Readers good to go for the Ondo election but unfortunately from the reports am getting, we lost the 5100 Smart Card Readers in that container.
“Will that affect the election? I am glad to say that we have recovered from that and election in Ondo is going to go ahead, we have huge capacity in the neighbouring state to get additional Smart Card Readers and I had a discussion with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Oyo State and we have 700 Smart Card Readers there, so getting 5000 Smart Card Readers to support Ondo won’t be an issue at all. This is not a general election that is holding nationwide, it is an off-season election.
“We have recovered in Ondo, while investigation continues in the cause of the fire. The Ondo election will not be affected by what happened to Smart Card Readers. The fire only affected the container housing the Smart Card Readers. It was the same container that was used in 2015, 2016 and 2019, so it is not that we moved the Smart Card Readers to an unsafe place.
“But learning from what happened in Ondo, we are also taking measures to ensure that there is no repeat of this kind of incident in Edo State”.
Meanwhile, on whether the Edo State governorship election will still hold as scheduled, Yakubu assured that the Commission was ready for the poll.
In his words, “yes in September 2016, the Edo governorship election for reasons known to Nigerians was postponed for two weeks but it had nothing to do with the preparation of the Commission.
“We know advice came for the postponement of the election. Is it going to happen again, not as far as INEC preparations are concerned? We are ready and good to go. INEC is not contemplating postponement of the election”.
Speaking also, Bishop of Sokoto Diocese and member of the National Peace Committee, Hassan Kukah, said the meeting was convened by the Chairman of the National Peace Committee and former Head of State, Abdulsalam Abubakar, to encourage the various agencies, especially INEC and to help inspire confidence.
He said, “you have been adequately briefed on the level of preparedness the rest is for us Nigerians to do the thing we do best, which is to pray and then we also hope that the people of Edo State will enjoy a very peaceful election, the rest we leave into the hands of God”.
Among those who attended the National Peace Committee meeting convened to interact with stakeholders including some Civil Society Organizations, were the former Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Prince Sam Amuka-Pemu.