*Say Warning Further Embolds Political Thugs, Emergence Of Unpopular Candidates
Stakeholders have criticized the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that votes in polling units where there’s violence won’t be counted.
According to the stakeholders, INEC’s warning amounts to abdication of responsibilities, Embolds political thuggery and indirect way of endorsing violence and emergence of unpopular candidates
The Commission had on Tuesday warned that it won’t count votes in any polling unit where violence occurs ahead of the November 11 elections in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Imo states.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu,represented by its National Commissioner supervising Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers, May Agbamuche-Mbu, said this in Yenagoa, at a stakeholders meeting, adding that INEC would deploy BIVAS to all polling units for the election.
“I want to let you know that our BIVAS have been customized for INEC, so INEC details and the name of the parties are on the BIVAS, so any BIVAS you see without INEC details cannot be from INEC,” Yakubu said. “Another thing, we have all the list of the serial number of the BIVAS we are going to use, the result sheets will be sign at the polling units. “Where there is violence, it will be zero, we will not return to that polling unit to conduct election. “We have recruited and carefully train all category of ad-hoc staff to be deployed to the field, all non sensitive materials have been distributed to all the eight local government area offices of the state, voter education and sensitization is ongoing,” he said. Yakubu added: “We have made arrangement for the transportation of personnel and materials to ensure that polling unit open on schedule on election day. “For more effective supervision of the process, we are deploying two National Commissioners, eight resident electoral Commissioners to support our office in Bayelsa, I wish to assure you of our commitment to free, fair and credible election come Saturday.”
Considering the heightened insecurity in the three affected states, particularly in Imo and Kogi, they argue that what the commission is supposed to do is to call on the government to provide adequate security and as well deal decisively with perpetrators.
“INEC should realize that most Nigerians have lost confidence in it in view of the many shortcomings and disappointments during the National Assembly and presidential elections and should know that the onus is on it to redeem its battered image, rather than looking for escape route,” says a stakeholder.
Commenting, another voter said”It is a common knowledge that Kogi and Imo, for instance have become battle grounds and from the look of things, the incumbent Governors are out to either ensure their candidate wins or he is returned for the second term by all means.”
“Is INEC claiming ignorant of what is happening in Kogi, for instance, where, it is being alleged that the East senetorial district, with the largest population is being disorganized through alleged sponsored killings and abduction, so as to scare voters from coming out to vote?
This is a state where in some towns, within the senatorial district where some youth are seen welding and carrying AK47 and other dangerous weapons, threatening openly to kill anybody that dares to come out to vote on that day.
“I think INEC is emboldening the thugs to continue on the rampage so as to ensure victory for the imposed candidate,” says Lagos based analyst.
However, speaking at the event, the state Commissioner of Police, Tolani Alausa, said the police were fully prepared to ensure peaceful election on Saturday.
Represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, Ijamah Daniel, Alausa said that the force would deploy enough personnel for the election.
“In every polling unit, we are going to deploy three to six personnel, outside that, the IGP has deployed as much as 21 unit of mobile police force, under tactical unit like the special force, the counter terrorism unit, special protection unit are all coming to Bayelsa. “I will advise every one of us to be law abiding, because we are prepared to withstand any type of challenge that will arise, we are equal to the task,” he said.
“INEC needs to walk the talk and prove skeptics wrong,” says another stakeholder.