Published On: Fri, Nov 8th, 2019

Bayelsa guber: Parties, candidates sign peace accord

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*As INEC Chair preaches against violence

By Lateef Ibrahim

Ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State, all the political parties and candidates contesting the election have signed the Peace Accord resolving, pledging, affirming and committing all to non-violence before, during and after the election.
The peace accord was signed yesterday in Yenagoa, the state capital, during the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) consultative meeting with critical stakeholders including political parties, candidates and security agencies among others.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu stated that the Commission is committed to free, fair and credible process, adding, “We need the commitment of especially the political parties and candidates to realise these goals”.
At the meeting, which also had in attendance the Inspector-General of Police as well as the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Prof Yakubu reiterated that voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law.
He reminded the electorate that the ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.
The INEC Chairman urged all stakeholders to continue to eschew violence and maintain peaceful conduct during the election.
According to him, ‘It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the process and to protect all election duty staff including the Youth Corps members who serve at the polling units which is the basic level of the voting process.
“It is also our collective responsibility to extend the same protection and allow freedom of movement and unimpeded access to polling and collation areas for accredited observers and the media during the election”, he said.
Continuing, Prof Yakubu said, “It is exactly nine (9) days (as at yesterday) to the election……I want to reassure you that INEC is ready. We have so far successfully implemented twelve (12) out of our 14-point plan for the election as required by law.
“Only five (5) days ago, we published the Notice of Poll and drew the attention of political parties fielding candidates in the election to the imperative of submitting names of their polling agents to our Electoral Officers (EOs) in each of the eight (8) Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Bayelsa State fourteen (14) days to the election as required by law.
“I trust that by now, political parties have complied with this requirement so that we can accredit their agents for polling and collation processes.
“The Commission has also delivered all non-sensitive materials to our office here in Yenagoa long ago. They have all been sorted out, categorized and batched, ready to be delivered to the LGAs, Wards and polling units.
“The sensitive materials are also ready and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is delivering them to Bayelsa State this weekend.
“The normal process of inspection and distribution within the State will be done in the presence of party agents, security agencies, observers and the media.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Bayelsa State will give the date and time for the inspection and the itinerary for deployment in line with the Commission’s standard practice for the inspection and movement of sensitive materials.
“The Smart Card Readers (SCRs) have been configured and will be added to other sensitive materials and delivered together. Once again, let me reiterate that it is mandatory to use the SCRs for voter accreditation and authentication.
“Let me also reiterate that voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law.
“The ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.
“I urge all stakeholders to continue to eschew violence and maintain peaceful conduct during the election.
“It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the process and to protect all election duty staff including the Youth Corps members who serve at the polling units which is the basic level of the voting process.
“It is also our collective responsibility to extend the same protection and allow freedom of movement and unimpeded access to polling and collation areas for accredited observers and the media during the election.”

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