INEC Pledges Credible Elections in Edo, Ondo

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•Dismisses APC’s rigging allegation against Igini

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the electorate in Edo and Ondo states that it would ensure free and credible governorship elections in the two states.

Fielding questions from journalists yesterday in Abuja shortly after swearing in a new Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ekiti State, Dr. Tella Rahmon, INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, also said the commission would not be distracted by spurious allegations peddled by mischievous politicians from doing the right thing “which is to conduct a free and fair election.”

According to him, the commission would stand by its officials, irrespective of spirited attempts by politicians to smear their reputations, as they’re wont to any time elections are to be conducted.

Yakubu spoke against the backdrop of the allegation by Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini, was plotting with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the governorship election.

He said: “In my discussions with him (Igini), he also asked his lawyer to initiate legal actions against the persons who made the statement. So, we leave it at that since the matter is likely to go to court.

“But let me also say that we stand by our resident electoral commissioners. We know the kind of job we are doing and all manner of people come with all manner of accusations to slander officials of the commission, essentially now to divert our attention from conducting elections in Nigeria.

“We won’t be distracted. We know these shenanigans, people who have been doing this for a long time. It won’t distract us from doing the right thing.
“My assurance to the people of Edo and Ondo states and the constituencies where we are going to conduct by-elections on October 31 is that they should expect from INEC, free, fair, and credible elections. Professionalism will not be compromised.

“We will not compromise our oath of office for any reason. Whoever the people vote for becomes the governor or representative.”
He also spoke on the level of preparedness of the commission for the September 19 Edo State gubernatorial election.
Yakubu said the commission was set to conduct the election, explaining that yesterday was the last day for the submission of the lists of agents by political parties.

After the swearing-in, Yakubu announced the deployment of Rohman, who is from Osun State to Ekiti State.
He said as part of the policy of the commission, no commissioner would serve in his or her home state, but could be deployed to serve in his geo-political zone.

He charged the new REC to live up to his oath of office and allegiance to the constitution.
Yakubu also urged him to carry out his duties within the ambit of the provisions of the Electoral Act.