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Published On: Tue, Sep 15th, 2020

Only voters will decide next Edo gov, INEC insists

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• Says thugs, their sponsors will be caged •Voting begins 8.30am, closes 2.30am

By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

With five days to the Edo State governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has concretely assured that only the choice made by the people of the State will determine the outcome of the election.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu who gave the assurance yesterday at a stakeholders’ meeting in Benin, the State capital, emphatically said that the ultimate objective of the Commission is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Edo State is entirely in the hands of the voters.
At the meeting, held at the Oba Akenzua II Cultural Centre, Benin, Prof Yakubu stated further that the Commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.
The Commission, the Chairman declared, is determined to ensure that no one will benefit from impunity or rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial
Prof Yakubu disclosed that INEChas been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results.
According to the INEC Chairman, “Our ultimate objective is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Edo State is entirely in the hands of the voters.
“I wish to reassure you that votes will count and only the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election.
“The Commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.
Our focus is on our processes and procedures. Nothing more.
“The Commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results.
“The people of Edo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment.
“We have been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results”, he said.
Prof Yakubu explained that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, polling units will now open at 8.30am (instead of 8.00am) and close at 2.30pm (instead of 2.00pm).
This, he said, has become necessary in order to accommodate the additional measures to protect public health necessitated by the global health emergency.
Continuing, he said, “However, all eligible voters, who are on the queue by 2.30pm, will be allowed to vote in line with the Commission’s regulations.
“Other procedures for the election are clearly outlined in the Voters’ Code of Conduct (VCC) which has since been disseminated.
“Similarly, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge polling agents, election observers and the media to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Commission’s policy, copies of which have been widely circulated and more will be shared at this meeting”, he said.
The Chairman pointed out that as in previous elections, the Commission is deploying magnifying glasses and braille ballot guides to assist Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to vote unaided.

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