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Published On: Fri, Aug 7th, 2020

INEC threatens to halt Edo, Ondo guber if…

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By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

Worried by the escalating violence and inflammatory statements on the forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has threatened to discontinue the process leading to the two elections should the actions of political actors lead to cogent and verifiable threat and/or breakdown of law and order before or during the elections.
The electoral body warned political parties and their candidates that it will not shirk in its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game.
The Commission declared that it will view gravely any disruptive actions by political actors.
The Professor Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC, which met yesterday and deliberated on a number of issues including preparations for the two elections, declared that 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.
“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”, it said.
In a statement issued after the meeting and signed by the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman,
Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, the reminded the Political Parties that Edo and Ondo governorship elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines, stressing that threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis.
The Commission, the statement assured, will continue to engage stakeholders in the two States on the need for free, fair, safe and peaceful elections, given that it has committed enormous public resources in preparing for the elections.
The statement reads in part, “It is important for political parties, candidates and their supporters to keep in mind that there are extant laws and regulations that they must adhere to during campaigns.
“The Commission will not shirk its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game.
“Consequently, parties and 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.
“The Commission remains determined to conduct peaceful elections in the two States and in the outstanding National and State Assembly bye-elections.
“Political Parties must realize 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.
“The Commission will continue to engage stakeholders in the two States on the need for free, fair, safe and peaceful elections, given that it has committed enormous public resources in preparing for the elections.
“Therefore, the Commission will view gravely any disruptive actions by political actors.
“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”, it said.
The Commission reassured the people of Edo and Ondo States of its determination to conduct credible and safe elections in the two states.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission has decided to introduce a dedicated public portal, the INEC RESULT VIEWING (IReV), that will enable Nigerians to view Polling Unit results real time as the voting ends on Election Day.
The measure is aimed at further strengthening the transparency in the election result management system.
According to another statement by Barrister Okoye, after a meeting of the Commission yesterday, the measure
is also aimed at further strengthening the Commisdion’s election management process and enhance transparency of the system.
The Commission said it is aware that result management has remained a major source of mistrust in our electoral process.
According to the Commission, “Citizens are often concerned, and sometimes rightly so, that results may not always be consistent with votes cast.
“It is a fundamental principle of democracy that in elections, votes are not only correctly counted, but that they also count.
“Consistent with its commitment to transparency in election management, the Commission introduced the Form EC60E, which is a poster version of the primary result sheet, the Form EC8A. “This replica of the polling unit result is pasted at the Polling Unit after votes are counted, recorded and announced. This poster, now widely known as the “People’s Form EC8A”, has increased transparency in result management.
“The form enables the citizens to photograph the results and project the outcome of elections, even before the final results are announced. Unfortunately, this has also led to abuses, as unofficial and at times false results are known to have been circulated, particularly via social media, leading to tension and casting aspersions on the final outcome of elections.
“To further strengthen the transparency in the election result management system, the Commission has decided to introduce a dedicated public portal, the INEC RESULT VIEWING (IReV), that will enable Nigerians to view Polling Unit results real time as the voting ends on Election Day”, it said.

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