Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) thursday said 21 out of the 42 political parties existing in Ekiti State are qualified to participate in the July 14 governorship poll.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ekiti, Prof Abduganiy Raji, said though INEC had received correspondences affirming existence of 42 parties in the state, stating that only 21 of them met the requirements of the laws.
Present at the meeting were security chiefs in the state, led by Police Commissioner, Mr. Abdullahi Chafe, chairmen of political parties, journalists and other critical stakeholders.
Raji promised that the commission would rely on heavy deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) gadgets for the conduct of the election, saying this would make it difficult for any staff to manipulate the outcome.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting held in Ado Ekiti yesterday, Raji said he has received a lot of threats from politicians and even some elders in the last few day, calling him to conduct free, fair and credible poll or face the consequences.
“We were made to believe that there were 24 parties in Ekiti, but when I went round, I realised only 21 had full complements of structures that met the requirements of the laws.
“Some were even located in a corner shop where they sell biscuits. We even got another 10 letters from other political parties of recent but we advised them to do the needful.
“We have got 33 notifications for party congresses. But let me tell our parties to always root their correspondences to us through the office of our National Chairman, these are letters will recognize.”
Speaking further about the litany of threats he had received, Raji said: “Most of these threats were from elders alleging that we were one-sided.
“But they have forgotten that there are two sides to a coin, if you don’t want INEC to do some things, you too must be cautious. I could a party go and induced INEC staff? This is unacceptable.
“We will use over 10,000 youth corps members for this election, can all of them be saints? Some will misbehave but we have to use appropriate way to deal with them.
“Let me assure you this, I have told you that I will abide by the rules and I know my staff will comply with my stand,” he assured.
Raji told all the political parties to tell their members to visit all Registration Areas and check their names on the voter registers, so that they can do claim and objection if names were missing.
The Commissioner of Police promised that the security agencies will maintain neutrality by being fair to all the parties.
Chafe appealed to politicians to show maturity in their campaigns and pasting of posters to reduce crises that are daily being reported by parties.
“ICT deployment by INEC has really helped the electioneering process in Nigeria. It has reduced the incidences of thuggery, ballot stuffing and snatching during elections.
On reports that some politicians used to pay posters in police stations, Chafe said: “But this issue of posters is becoming too problematic.
“I am still going to hold a meeting with you where you will agree whether you will be using posters or handbills, so I can instruct my men to arrest and detain whoever breaches the regulation.
The Chairmen of PDP, Barr Gboyega Oguntuase, his counterpart in Labour Party, Mr. Banji Omotoso and the APC Publicity Secretary, Hon. Taiwo Olatunbosun, promised to rein in their members for peaceful conduct of the poll.