No Plans to Redeploy Election Officials in Edo, Says INEC

  • PDP: Commission must use card readers for accreditation

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is not making any move to rejig the posting of election officers for the rescheduled governorship election in Edo State.

While reacting to allegation made by the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the effect that it is under pressure from the Governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to remove some election officers, INEC said such cannot be possible.

The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, told THISDAY on telephone yesterday that the commission does not take instruction from any governor or political party.

“That must be a rumour, it is not true and can never be true. INEC operates under a body of laws and is independent, it does not take instruction from government or anybody to withdraw an electoral officer. So it is not true, no governor can influence INEC.

“There is no opportunity for any governor or political party to put pressure on the commission for it to redeploy or remove any electoral officer, that is not possible. I do not why the PDP is making that allegation but I can assure Nigerians that it is not possible and can never be possible. Something like that is never allowed.

On whether the commission is considering making changes in the posting of electoral officials, Oyekanmi said he was not aware of any such plan.

“The issue of changing electoral officers does arise. We have a plan already for the governorship election and that plan is still on. It is only being delayed, there is no way of changing it. Practically it is not possible unless on health grounds. For instance, if an electoral officer comes forward to say that he or she has a health challenge,” he said.

Another official of INEC, Deputy Director in the Voter Education and Publicity, Nick Dazang, said he was unaware of any move to redeploy staff already posted for the Edo poll.

“The commission has the right to redeploy its staff as it deems fit but right now I am not aware of any such plan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the state Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, has alleged a plot by the APC to rig the September 28 governorship election through the use of manual accreditation of voters.

Orbih, however, stated at a press conference yesterday in Benin that the PDP would insist on the use of the card readers for accreditation of voters in the election.

He said the APC had planned to influence the INEC to dump the card readers for manual accreditation as part of its grand plan to manipulate the process and skew the outcome in its favour.

Orbih stated that the APC is using the 18 days by which the election was postponed to, among other vote-catching gimmicks, perfect its rigging plot.

According to him, “It is clear to the APC that there is no way it can win in a free and fair contest. Consequently, there is a plan by the APC to, among other things, ensure that the card readers do not function.”

He accused the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and his agents of instigating the mass arrests of PDP leaders and members by the police ahead of September 28 so as to dampen the morale of party members and its supporters.

He alleged that the mass arrests and intimidation had since commenced.
Orbih displayed a letter of invitation from the police to a party leader claiming an investigation into the leader’s conduct that could lead to a security breach, pointing out that this was a pattern being adopted to harass PDP members.

He also said as part of the plan to intimidate uncompromising influential members of the party, the state governor and his agents had sent thugs after them.

He stated that the PDP has recorded casualties with members sustaining various degrees of injury from gunshots.

He displayed photographs of some members who were allegedly attacked.
Orbih also alleged that as part of the grand plan to rig the rescheduled election, the state governor acting in concert with his highly influential contacts at INEC, is planning to replace all the Electoral Officers in Edo State with Electoral Officers from APC-controlled states.

While thanking Edo people whose resolve to change the APC has put the ruling party on edge, Orbih assured them that the PDP would do everything legally possible to ensure that their votes for the PDP in the September election count.

He stated that the PDP would resist all attempts by the ruling party to rig the election.