…….Violators will face consequences, INEC Chairman warns
……Police deploy 31,000 personnel for Edo election -IGP
A foremost civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has counselled President Muhammadu Buhari to play the role of a statesman by staying neutral in the course of the exercise.
This is as the party reminded Buhari that as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Nigerians expect him to champion a level playing field that would afford all participating political parties equal opportunity to test their popularity at the poll.
Addressing journalists on Monday in Abuja, Emmanuel Onwubiko, national coordinator of HURIWA faulted the alleged use of a Presidential jet by the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, campaign council for Edo election, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, describing the development as a breach of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
He said; “HURIWA wants the President, Muhammadu Buhari to be a statesman and not interfere in the coming election in Edo state to select the governor of the state. HURIWA says it is completely out of order for President Muhammadu Buhari to be seen extremely concerned about the outcome of the election when in actual fact as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he is holding the office on behalf of the entirety of Nigeria as he is not the President of All Progressives Congress.
“The Nigerian President is by his oath of office expected to be above board and must not be seen actively promoting one-sided agenda but should be the champion of a pan Nigerian agenda.
“We have observed with shock and disappointment that the campaign council set up by the All Progressively Congress headed by the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, flew into Benin, the Edo state capital on a presidential jet belonging to all of Nigeria.
“If this trending news report is anything to go by, then we absolutely condemn this reckless display of political rascality and flagrant abuse of power which offends section 15(5) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states that, ‘he state shall abolish all corrupt practice and abuse of power’ ”
By that singular action, the group noted that a clear instance of partisanship has been established by the Presidency.
He continued: “We, in HURIWA view this naked show of reckless executive power manifested in the illegal use of the people’s jet for a partisan affair such as conveying the campaign team of the APC to Benin City as reported which we believe is meant to tell the electoral umpire that the President’s mind is that the electoral process be manipulated in favour of the party that controls presidential power which incidentally is the appointing authority of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“We hereby warn INEC to ensure that the governorship poll is free, fair, transparent and peaceful. INEC must not be intimidated by the federally controlled security forces or should they out of intimidation already displayed by the fact that the presidential jet was deployed to convey campaign team of APC, to then manipulate the electoral process.
“We want to caution INEC that any attempt to rig the poll may not augur well for stability of Nigeria.”
Onwubiko further warned the two major political parties, the APC and PDP to play by the rules by ensuring that any form of harassment, inducement or intimidation of voters is avoided.
The group also called on security agencies to exhibit the highest form of professionalism, warning that they must not allow themselves to be used by politicians for their selfish gains.
In what appears a pointer to the possibility of a re-run, HURIWA charged INEC to do everything possible to conclude the election and produce a winner on first ballot.
“HURIWA wants the Edo state governorship poll to b a credible election. As stated by experts, we agree that inclusive elections provide equal opportunities for all eligible citizens to participate as voters in selecting their representatives and as candidates for election to government.
“This right to participate is a broad concept and can only be subject to reasonable restrictions that are provided by law.
“Authorities must take steps to assess and remove any barriers to the participation of all citizens.
“This includes removing barriers for traditionally marginalized populations such as ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities; women, youth or elderly citizens; and persons with disabilities.
“Reasonable restrictions on participation should be narrow, like a minimum age for voting and standing as an electoral contestant,” he added.
It further condemned the stationing of military vehicles in the residence of Adams Oshiomhole, until recently, the national chairman of the APC.
Violators will face consequences, INEC Chairman warns
The National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Monday warned that electoral violators would face the consequences of their actions, if caught during the Sept.19, Edo governorship election.
Yakubu gave the warning during an expanded stakeholders’ meeting organised by INEC in Benin.
He listed some of the infractions to include vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials among others.
“Edo people 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.’’
Yakubu also disclosed that the national headquarters of INEC would monitor the election throughout the state through a zoom situation room.
“This zoom situation room will allow us receive live reports from the field. Accredited observers and the media will also be invited to join at intervals.
“By doing so, the commission will receive first-hand information as the election is going on.’’
The INEC boss, however, reassured Edo people that their votes would count adding that only the choice made by the people of Edo would determine the outcome of the election.
Yakubu explained that the commission would not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.
According to him, our focus is on our processes and procedures, nothing more, but be assured that Saturday’s election will be credible.
Yakubu further stated that the commission would be deploying magnifying glasses and Braille ballot guides to assist Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to vote unaided.
“INEC policy for the conduct of elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and Code of Conduct have been translated into Braille in order to ensure greater participation of all citizens in the electoral process irrespective of disability.”
The Chairman also explained that a component of the z-pad which was supposed to be used for the election had been dropped.
He noted that all categories of ad hoc staff had been vetted adding that the integrity of the process would not be compromised.
Also speaking, The Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig-Gen. Shuaib Ibrahim, appealed to all stakeholders to ensure the safety and security of all corps members deployed for the election.
Ibrahim, who was represented by the South South Supervisor of NYSC, Mr Benjamin Ayodele, thanked INEC for the confidence reposed in the corps.
According to him, I want to appeal to all stakeholders to protect our corps members during the election.
The representative of the Benin Monarch, Chief Osato Bazuaye, called on INEC and the I-G of police to ensure that the election was free, fair and peaceful.
“We want you to write your name in gold. Ensure that this election is one of the best. It is a test for INEC, the Police and all of us,” he said.
Police deploy 31,000 personnel for Edo election -IGP
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu on Monday disclosed that no fewer than 31,000 personnel have been deployed for the governorship election in Edo.
Adamu disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Benin ahead of the governorship election holding on Sept. 19.
He noted that the force was not unconscious of heightened tension and violence that had characterised political campaigns ahead of the election.
He stressed that the police remains impartial, firm, and committed to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election in the state.
He said that the stakeholders meeting was a platform for interaction with political actors in the governorship election with a view to charting a course for a peaceful poll.
He noted that for the first time, inter-agencies’ in the state had developed a code of conduct for security personnel that would be deployed for election duties.
He added that the personnel deployed would ensure adequate security and protection across the three Senatorial District as well as the 192 wards and the more than 2,000 polling units in the state.
Adamu stressed that violators of electoral laws and rules during the election would be decisively dealt with irrespective of political affiliation.
He advised parents and guardians to appeal to their children and wards to resist the temptations by politicians to engage them in violence.
He said that the police and other security personnel deployed for the election have been trained to be civil in carrying out their responsibility.
He therefore called for cooperation from members of the public to achieve a peaceful election.