From Ahmad Ibrahim, Lokoja
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday raised concerns over the level of violence ahead of the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.
The chairman of the commission, Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud who spoke in Lokoja at a one day interactive session with critical stakeholders, pointed out that the utterances and positions of the political players was heating up the polity in the state.
He said electoral umpire has put all necessary steps in place towards a peaceful, credible and conclusive election, adding however that the political class is undermining their preparations.
“Kogi and Bayelsa governorship poll is a major election in Nigeria. There will be more eyes and more ears on Kogi/Bayelsa poll. The election is very important for everybody. INEC as a body is ready and we can deliver a free, fair, credible and conclusive election even on the first day of voting”, Prof. Mahmood stressed.
According to him, election materials are already with the Central Bank, saying their only concerns at the moment are the political parties, who have to exercise restraint so as to reduce tension.
“INEC is not interested in any candidates. Our interest is a fair processes. Political parties should chance the image of trepidations that is already on ground for the election.”
Mahmoud said the 2015 general elections saw two of their offices in Adavi and Bassa local governments burnt down, noting that every pointer that resulted to such ugly past developments was already showing.
“We urged the political players to guide their utterances during campaigns, voting and collation of results. We also warned against voters inducement as occurred in time past. The inducement in time past was a sad occurrence as it happened both in cash and kinds. Inducement undermined democratic ethos and we shall enforce the law against voters inducement”, he emphasized.
The chairman equally urged the civil society organizations to partner with the electoral umpire in the area of voters education, even as he warned that they would not tolerate harassment or manhandling of their staffs.
He said the recruited ad-hoc staffs will be well remunerated as their welfare is already taking care of, and n that the commission would not give room for substitution of ad – hoc staff by political parties.
He however assured that INEC is committed to the process and would maintain its integrity as electoral umpires, saying”m materials are already bagged and marked polling unit by polling unit. INEC is ready to deliver credible elections.”
The Inspector General of Police, Adamu Muhammed in a remark, disclosed that security operatives have gathered credible intelligence, that some political class has mapped out plan to sew police and military uniforms for members during the election.
The IG, who was represented by DIG Operation, Abdulmajib Ali also warned parties against rallies in same town same day, so as to avoid crisis in the build up to the election.
He however said the security apparatus are ready for the poll, disclosing that 25,000 policemen would be available for the election, as they were poised to ensure a credible and peaceful exercise.