Prof Attahiru Jega
By Adibe Emenuonu
Ahead of the July 14 governorship election in Edo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Mr. Kassim Gaidam, has confirmed that the commission’s National Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, will be in the state from tomorrow to personally conduct the election
He also announced the presence of 9,000 security personnel, as well as over 9,000 ad hoc staff for the election, adding that electoral officer (EOs) from the South-south geo-political zone would be deployed to the state
Besides, he said the commission has procured over 60 Hilux vans, three for each of the 18 councils to ensure smooth movement and distribution of electoral materials.
Gaidam who disclosed this while briefing the media on the state of preparedness of the commission for free, fair and credible election, said already, 18 commissioners, one for each of the local government councils would be on duty to assist in the conduct of the poll.
He noted that the heavy presence of security was to prevent any undue influence of the people to vote any candidate of their choice, intimidate or snatch or stuff ballot boxes or any other form of rigging.
To achieve this, the Edo INEC boss said he had been holding meetings with all the political parties contesting the election, saying “on 28th of June at the Police Officers Mess, we had meeting where all stakeholders signed and agreed to free, fair and credible election.
On the purported exclusion of civil society organisations from the state election observers, Gaidam pointed out that eight out of the 20 observers accredited are from the state, noting that a good number of them failed to meet the criteria and guidelines for accreditation. On the alleged sale of voters’ cards, he described it as an electoral offence and that anyone caught will not be punished.
“We learnt that some persons were arrested by the police for selling voters’ cards. We are already investigating that and as soon as we are done, we will prosecute them.”
Urging voters not to be afraid of any form of danger and come out to cast their votes, Gaidam admonished politicians to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship, adding that in every game, one person must emerge winner.