By Chuks Okocha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Saturday said that it had started documenting all incidences of violence and hate speeches in Edo state for necessary action.
INEC was reacting to the comments by the Peoples Democratic Party that the commission was playing to the gallery because it knows the party perpetuating violence in Edo state.
Speaking with THISDAY, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Information, Festus Okoye, said that “the Commission is documenting incendiary statements aimed at inflaming passion. The Commission is also documenting violent acts and threats to the smooth conduct of elections in Edo and Ondo State”.
According to Okoye, “In the coming days, the Commission will engage the leaders of the political parties, the campaign councils, the candidates in the election, traditional and religious leaders, civil society groups and organizations as well as the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security with a view to deescalating and degrading the level of violence in both state”.
Okoye explained that the the Commission was a regulatory agency and will continue to encourage all the registered political parties to toe the path of peace and electoral transparency.
He stated that there were 18 registered political parties and all of them had equal registration and in the eyes of the Commission and the law of political parties were equal.
Accordingly, he said, “The Commission is documenting incendiary statements aimed at inflaming passion. The Commission is also documenting violent acts and threats to the smooth conduct of elections in Edo and Ondo States. In the coming days, the Commission will engage the leaders of the Political Parties, the Campaign Councils, the candidates in the election, traditional and religious leaders, civil society groups and organizations as well as the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security with a view to deescalating and degrading the level of violence in both states.
“All the political parties participating in the election must comply with the extant laws and regulations relating to the conduct of campaigns and rallies. The Commission is resolutely focused on the conduct of both elections and will not be drawn into partisan political issues. We will continue to emphasize and reiterate that the Commission is a regulatory agency and not a political party and has no partisan political leaning. Political Parties must realize and come to terms with the slippery constitutional timelines embedded in section178(2) of the constitution.
“The Commission will not condone the present slide towards violence and the present escalation of abusive, intemperate, slanderous and base language designed to provoke violent reactions”, the INEC Commissioner stated.
INEC also clarified that the recently inaugurated results viewing centre does not connote transmission of results that would go to a server.
Okoye explained that the uploaded result goes to a portal where it can be viewed by the public.
According to the INEC National Commissioner, “We are simply uploading results from the polling units for public viewing purposes only. The main drive is to further strengthen our result management processes and procedures and enhance transparency of the System.
“The collation of results from the polling units to the Registration Area Collation Centers will be done manually and in accordance with existing law and the Commissions Regulations and Guidelines.
“The iRev falls within the ambit of Form EC60 E that is displayed at the polling units for public viewing and any member of the public can snap and post same on any platform. The Commission is just uploading Form 60E series that are posted at the polling Units after elections for public view. The Commission will continue to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process”, Okoye explained. .
According to Okoye, the Commission will continue to provide robust leadership in the use of technology for elections given the global pandemic that is reshaping ways and means of doing things, explaining that the innovation will be extended to all subsequent elections that will be conducted by the Commission.
He also said that INEC will continue its creative innovations aimed at deepening the use of technology in the electoral process and guaranteeing transparency in results transmission.