….As 667,064 Voters Cast Lot Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has said that the Ekiti State Governorship Poll slated for Saturday, will affirm the “maturity of the country’s democracy” even as he attested that the Commission’s officials will “remain neutral”. “I wish to reassure that our officials are under
….As 667,064 Voters Cast Lot
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has said that the Ekiti State Governorship Poll slated for Saturday, will affirm the “maturity of the country’s democracy” even as he attested that the Commission’s officials will “remain neutral”.
“I wish to reassure that our officials are under strict instruction to remain neutral. We have also accredited credible foreign and local observers to monitor this election. We are confident that with the arrangements we have put in place, Ekiti State governorship election will be another good example of free, fair, credible and peaceful election and a further affirmation of the maturity of our democracy,” he said.
Yakubu who revealed that a total of 667,064 voters are expected to vote in Saturday’s Ekiti State governorship election during yesterday’s stakeholders’ meeting in Ado-Ekiti, the capital of the state, said the Commission decided to distribute the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to the ward level to motivate the electorate to be able to exercise their franchise.
“For transparency, all uncollected PVCs will be brought to INEC office in Ado Ekiti and warehoused for safe keeping until a new date is fixed to resume the PVC collection. However, since the Anambra State Governorship Election held in November 2017, we have introduced an additional measure of transparency”, he said.
The stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris in collaboration with INEC ended in uproar due to disruption of the meeting half way by supporters of both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
.Earlier, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris warned political leaders and their supporters not to engage the services of thugs, noting whoever was arrested would be dealt with acoording to laws guiding the conduct of elections.
“We want all party supporters to refrain from all acts that can precipitate violence at the polling booths such as canvassing for votes, wearing of party insignia, dissuading voters from voting for candidates of their choice, loitering and blaring of siren on the day of election. We will also not tolerate ignoring of restriction of movement orders by the police. Don’t see election as a matter of life and death.”
“Let me state that the police will not hesitate to deal with anybody no matter how highly placed found flouting electoral laws. Let me call for the collaboration and support of the entire sister agencies and the INEC officials. Police officers have been warned to be of good conduct during and after the election. If you notice any misconduct on the part of any police, do not hesitate to report to the senior officers on the ground or contact me directly,” he said.
Meanwhile, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Adams Oshiomhole, said that heavy security deployment for Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State was necessary to forestall any likely breakdown of law and order.
He stated this on Monday in Abuja while reacting to the deployment of 30,000 policemen and 19,997 personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to the state for the election. This is in addition to mobile survellance vehicles and sniffer dogs.
Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State spoke after a closed-door meeting with the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright, who visited him.
He, however, added that it was not the number of officers deployed that mattered, but their effectiveness in ensuring safety of voters and ballot boxes, arguing that heavy presence of military and the police was required at elections, especially in Nigeria “because the rigging machine is serviced by hardened criminals who are often hired by politicians”.
According to Oshiomhole, such criminals usually carry AK-47 Rifle on an election day and the police could be overwhelmed.
“We shouldn’t worry about how many officers are deployed. I think we should all pray that however people are deployed, that in the end, we are not counting dead bodies”.
“My experience in Edo as governor is that you will hear stories of how many officers are deployed, but in the end, you will find no policemen. I have seen that in Edo.
“The important thing is that regardless of what the police choose to do, regardless of the number they choose to deploy, let us ensure that those who are going to vote are safe and that the votes cast are secured,“ he said.
Oshiomhole appreciated the British Government for its support in promoting democracy in Nigeria and assured the envoy that the Federal Government would do everything to ensure a free and fair electoral process in Ekiti adding that the electoral process was more important than its outcome to him and the party.
“We are looking at the Nigerian project in terms of sustaining democracy, not the survival of a particular political aspirant, whether it is on my party platform or in the platform of the opposition“, he said.
Earlier, Arkwright said that his country was interested in Nigeria’s democracy, adding that Britain intended to send observers for the election. “The British High Commission will be sending a team there to observe the election and to ensure that it goes smoothly”. “We want to basically ensure that the people of Ekiti state are allowed to freely express their opinion to vote with their conscience and to be able to do so in a peaceful manner”, he said.
Thirty five political parties are contesting in the Ekiti election, which has a former governor of the state, Dr Kayode Fayemi who is contesting on the platform of APC and Prof Kolapo Olusola Eleka of the PDP as the two leading candidates.