Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has announced the withdrawal of corps members from participation in Saturday’s rescheduled rerun election in parts of Rivers State citing violence as reason.
The announcement came barely three days to the rescheduled rerun elections scheduled to hold in Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas on Saturday, February 25.
The Rivers State Co-ordinator of NYSC, Mr. Omotayo Adeyeye, gave the stand of the corps tuesday during a stakeholders meeting towards the rerun elections at the police headquarters, Moscow Road.
The Co-ordinator, who also spoke with newsmen shortly after the meeting, said any NYSC member who decides to participate in the election would be doing so on his/her own risk.
He said: “I don’t have the wherewithal to say go ahead and participate in the elections or don’t participate. An MoU was signed at the commencement of this partnership between the NYSC and INEC. When a call is made on us to feature in any election, I, as the chief executive of the NYSC in the state I have to call the national directorate headquarters, headed by the director general.
“I have contacted him and the advice that I am receiving is that, because of the violence that attended the last election in which case our corps members were at the receiving end of assault on their personality by politicians, we may not be able to vouch for their security this time around.
“Some of them showed interest but if they do so and they feature in the election, they are on their own. After now, I call headquarters and tell them what I experienced in today’s meeting. One thing is to make appeals and promises, another thing is to ensure that there is security.
“These are people who will come and waylay these children on their way during the elections and even after the elections, they will not allow them to reach their destinations. We have means of identification of corps members. So anybody who says he’s going to fake should have a second thought.”
Addressing the stakeholders, the Resident Electoral Officer in the state, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, regretted that this is the second time a rerun elections was being organised in the state sequel to the 2015 general elections. He informed them that the elections would take place in 147 polling units in the two LGAs for the national Assembly, and 74 units for the state Assembly in Etche only.
Ikoiwak further stated the elections are taking place in areas where the commission could not access due to violence, where materials arrived but elections did not hold, and where elections took place but results were rejected.
He further informed that three Electoral Officers, EOs, and three Area Electoral Officers, AEOs have been deployed for the elections, adding that apart from corps members, every other person participating in the elections are INEC staff. He, therefore, cautioned the INEC staff to be of good conduct by putting their jobs first.
Earlier, the Acting Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmed Magaji (DCP), also stated that the meeting was to ensure security during and after the elections in the state.
The DCP, who stated that the police were prepared for the elections, harped on the need for a peaceful conduct, assuring stakeholders that security agencies would give all political parties a level playing ground.