The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would stop the announcement of results in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State, scheduled for September 19 if there is a threat to peace.
The commission specifically threatened to withdraw from the exercise even if election has started at any time violence erupted.
INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed this in Abuja on Saturday while speaking to newsmen on the ongoing developments in Edo State.
“The commission reviewed the conduct of political parties and the candidates in Edo and Ondo States and reminded them of the need to play by the rules of the game. The commission advised political parties to pay attention to the dangers of violence and the use of incendiary statements on the electoral process.
“The commission made it clear that it will not conduct elections in a violent environment and will withdraw and not announce any results if there are cogent and verifiable threats to its officials and the voters, ” Okoye said.
Okoye, who maintained that INEC would not shift the election if the violence persists, said: “The commission is committed and determined to conduct the elections within the constitutionally allowed period but the parties must not cuddle violence and engage in acts aimed at undermining the electoral process and expect a soft landing from the commission. We are a regulatory body and those being regulated must obey the rules and procedures for campaigns and rallies.
“The commission is committed and determined to conduct the elections within the constitutionally allowed period but the parties must not cuddle violence and engage in acts aimed at undermining the electoral process and expect a soft landing from the commission. We are a regulatory body and those being regulated must obey the rules and procedures for campaigns and rallies.”
He added: “The commission cannot shift the Edo governorship election beyond October 10, 2020. If the election is disrupted and the commission is unable to deploy on September 19 2020, millions spent on printing of ballot papers, result sheets, payment of allowances for ad-hoc staff, hiring of vehicles and other sundry expenses will go down the drains.
“Disruption of the election will put unnecessary pressure on the commission relating to the time for the possible conduct of a second election. Disruption may throw the timelines for the conduct of elections out of gear and there will be constitutional crisis in Edo State.”
However, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has urged INEC not to succumb to distractions to suspend or postpone the governorship election in Edo State.
The organisation, which is a coalition of the 18 political parties in Nigeria, condemned what it described as “the unfolding political upheavals and rascality in Edo State,” adding that it was a misstep that could plunge the country into a major crisis.
IPAC National Chairman, Dr Leonard Nzenwa, and Publicity Secretary, Major Agbo, during a press briefing in Abuja, called on the President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order in the state.