Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State has called on politicians in the state to take necessary steps to ensure that the concluding part of the rerun elections would not be characterised by violence.
The commission called on politicians in the state to see elections as a civic duty and not as a war.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, made the call yesterday in Port Harcourt during an interactive forum with politicians and a group of mediators from the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Ikoiwak said elections in the state would be credible if only politicians would allow voters to perform their civic duties by voting for candidates of their choice.
He declared that election would not be seen to be free and fair in a situation where INEC officials were forced to announce results at gunpoint, adding that stakeholders, including politicians must allow peace to reign during election periods.
Ikoiwak pointed out that the interactive forum was organised for stakeholders to come together and agree on when the suspended rerun elections held on March 19, 2016 would be completed.
He said it was wrong for people to blame INEC each time elections were inconclusive, adding that it was the duty of everybody to ensure an environment that would be conducive for a free and fair election to hold.
His words: “The INEC headquarters has gone ahead to set up a team to interact with us so that we can have an election that is violent-free. We must agree that election is civic duty and not a war.
“Election is not a war situation. It is an exercise where people should be allowed to decide because it is their constitutional right. That is why we must provide a conducive environment for people to votes.
“Most of the time, when people talk about free and fair election, most people think of INEC. But the truth is that you cannot have a free and fair election when INEC official is told to announce election result at gunpoint.
“As Nigerians, we have agreed that there were lapses in the last election and we must be ready to agree to correct our mistakes and not to continue to feel as if we are angels.”
He stated that though the date for completing the suspended rerun elections had not been fixed, only the politicians’ disposition to a peaceful conduct of the exercise would determine when it (election) would hold.
“The political parties, the electoral body and security agents should join hands so that we can achieve the goal of completing the election in this state.
“We must know that the date of the election has not been fixed and all what we are doing is to see whether we are ready to hold the elections,” he said.