•Warns parties on Edo, Ondo gov elections
By Chuks Okocha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday launched a portal where election results from polling units can be viewed in real-time, as part of the efforts to strengthen transparency in the election result management system.
The electoral body also warned political parties that engage in violent campaigns and thuggery that it will not shirk its powers to ensure that extant laws and rules of electioneering campaigns are obeyed.
The commission said that the extant laws must be observed during the electioneering activities.
In a statement issued yesterday by the National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Public Information, Mr. Festus Okoye, the commission urged political parties’ candidates and their supporters to endeavour to conduct their campaigns in line with extant laws.
Okoye in the statement said, “It is important for political parties, candidates and their supporters to keep in mind that there are extant laws and regulations that they must adhere to during campaigns.
“The commission will not shirk its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game.”
According to Okoye, “Political parties must realise that Edo and Ondo states governorship elections are taking place at a time of a global pandemic and the Commission is working assiduously to observe and comply with all health and safety protocols issued by the Commission and health authorities.
“With the pandemic taking its toll on the citizenry, the people of Edo and Ondo states must be saved from the added burden of violent and raucous elections. Political parties must remember that Edo and Ondo State governorship elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines and threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis.”
Okoye explained that it has observed also with deep concern the escalating levels of violent actions and incendiary statements by political parties, candidates and their supporters in the run-up to the Edo and Ondo states governorship Elections.
INEC said political parties and candidates “must on no account underestimate the resolve of the commission to enforce the rules and regulations and apply appropriate sanctions against those who choose to break them.
“The commission remains determined to conduct peaceful elections in the two States and in the outstanding National and State Assembly bye-elections, “Okoye stated.
He said that the “Commission will continue to engage stakeholders in the two States on the need for free, fair, safe and peaceful elections, given that it has committed enormous public resources in preparing for the elections. Therefore, the Commission will view gravely any disruptive actions by political actors”.
Going forward, Okoye said that INEC will work with and collaborate with the security agencies to contain all incidents or threats of violence before and during the elections.
It also said that “regulatory agencies with roles in the elections, especially those dealing with insecurity, hate speech and abuse of mass media, must step up their activities and ensure that all those that break the law are held to account.”
The commission reassured the people of Edo and Ondo states of its determination to conduct credible and safe elections in the two states, stating that, “The Commission shall not hesitate to discontinue the process should the actions of political actors lead to cogent and verifiable threat and/or breakdown of law and order before or during the elections”.
“To further strengthen the transparency in the election result management system, the commission has decided to introduce a dedicated public portal, the INEC RESULT VIEWING (IReV) that will enable Nigerians to view Polling Unit results real-time as the voting ends on Election Day.”
Okoye, in a separate statement, explained that INEC wishes to emphasise that this does not constitute electronic collation of results as the collation of election results shall remain as provided for by law, a manual process of completion of relevant result sheets and their upwards collation until the final results are determined.
It said that this innovation will commence from the Nasarawa Central state constituency by-election in Nasarawa State scheduled for Saturday 8th August 2020, thereafter, it will be extended to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections as well as all subsequent elections.