Edo Guber: INEC Expresses Fear over Possible Violence

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Commission to publish candidates’ names today
US Consul-General task candidates on violence-free poll
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the major concern in the preparation for the September 10 governorship election in Edo State is the security of personnel, voters and materials.

As part of the processes for the governorship poll, the  commission said  it would today publish the names of approved governorship candidates for the election.
The commission had Monday put off the scheduled re-run National Assembly election in Rivers State due to fear of violence.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting, the INEC National Commissioner (North-west), Mrs. Amina Zakari, said the reason for increasing cases of inconclusive elections recently is due to the desperation on the part of politicians to win elections at all cost.

She said rather than blaming the commission for it, Nigerians should hold political parties and politicians accountable for the inability to conclude elections peacefully.
Also, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for the Edo State, Sam Olumekun, re-echoed the position of his colleague when he attributed incidence of violence  during elections to the desperate bid by politicians to outwit one another.

“INEC’s experience since the 2015 general election is that election security may have been on the decline. I should therefore shout loudly that perhaps the biggest challenge we face is that of security,” he stated.

Regarding security strategy for the Edo State governorship election, INEC said: “We must try to balance the imperatives of securing the electoral processes with the need to allow voters unfettered opportunity to come out and cast votes without any fear as a result of the presence of security personnel,” he said.

The commission said the issue of security during elections should not be the concern of INEC or security agencies alone but that other stakeholders such as the media, community leaders, Civil society and political parties should be involved.

According to the REC, the commission is working closely with security agencies under the inter-agency consultative committee on election security at the state and local government area levels in the state.
“No matter the extent of our readiness, if there are serious security concerns, the successful conduct of free, fair, credible and peaceful governorship election in the state would be jeopardised.

“Recurrent security issues such as snatching of election materials, abduction of election personnel, disruption of electoral processes by hoodlums and over zealousness on the part of the party supporters have since 2015 elections been on the increase.

“Security is basically indispensable for the conduct of credible election from the provision of basic security to political parties at campaign rallies to the voters, election personnel and materials, the electoral process is guarded by security considerations,” he said.

Meanwhile, ahead of the election, the United States Consul-General in Nigeria, John Bray, has charged candidates of all the political parties in the election to see the poll as a contest and not a battle ground.
Bray in company of the Economic Officer of the Consulate-General, James Plasman, stated this when he paid a courtesy visit on the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, in Benin City.
He warned political gladiators in the state be aware that the international community was waiting anxiously to see a violence free election.

Assuring the state government of a sustained working environment, Bray noted that matters of economic importance such as agriculture, power, (the Agro Power Projects which they are committing $50 million through USAID) Peace in the Niger-Delta and Matters bordering on youth empowerment is top on their priority list.

He said: “We are in the state for the upcoming election, just letting them know the international community is watching for a free, fair and transparent election. So we are trying to make that point to all the gladiators.”
On his part, Obaseki with his running mate, Philip Shaibu, while receiving the delegation, thanked them for the visit which he said would go a long way in sustaining the mutual working relationship between the US and the state.