- Shifts poll by 2weeks
- Police, DSS adamant on security fears
Contrary to earlier position by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, to go ahead with the Edo governorship election slated for Saturday, September 10th, 2016. The Commission has finally shifted ground by postponing the polls further by another two weeks.
According to report available to Nigerian Pilot, the decision to shift the election was taken at a security meeting held in Benin, Edo State capital.
This situation has further raised tension in the state as the poll has been the subject of national discussion that calls for concern across board, owing to the press release issued jointly by the Department of State service, DSS, and the Nigeria Police, on the intelligence report bothering on the security of the conduct of the election.
However, in a swift response, INEC came out to refute the claim saying the Commission was not notified by both DSS and the Police on any impending security threat to the election, despite having both representatives of the two security agencies present at the stakeholders meeting that was held.
Later news filtering from INEC however show that it finally succumbed to the security alibi created by security agencies.
This decision came shortly after it reaffirmed its readiness to go ahead with the Edo State governorship election slated for Saturday, September 10th, 2016 yesterday also.
According to news bulletin issued by the INEC, while addressing press men at the Edo State office of the Commission yesterday, the National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity Committee of INEC, Prince Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, who expressed the determination of the Commission to go ahead with the election disclosed that as at yesterday, the Commission had reached not less than 97% level of preparation for the conduct of the election.
Except the actual conduct of the election, he explained that the Commission had scrupulously implemented all the items listed in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the EDO governorship election which it issued in March this year.
Prince Soyebi stressed that “the Commission would not be teleguided and that it would not do anything that would mortgage Nigeria’s democracy”.
He further emphasized that the Commission robustly considered the implications of demobilizing and arrived at the fact that it was more expensive to do so.
INEC’s position is coming on the heels of earlier position made by the Department of State Service and Nigeria Police, that the Saturday election should be postponed to another safer date, owing to intelligence report that the Boko Haram elements are planning attacks on some parts of the country during the Sallah break, Edo inclusive.
“After carefully weighing all the consequences and parameters of postponing the Edo governorship election as advised yesterday by spokespersons of the Police and Directorate of State Security (DSS), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has decided to go ahead with the conduct of the election as scheduled for Saturday, 10th September 2016,” read the statement, released by Nick Dazang.
“Addressing press men at the Edo State office of the Commission this afternoon, the National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity Committee of INEC, Prince Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, who expressed the determination of the Commission to go ahead with the election, disclosed that as at yesterday, the Commission had reached not less than ninety seven per cent level of preparation for the conduct of the election.
“Except the actual conduct of the election, he explained that the Commission had scrupulously implemented all the items listed in the Timetable And Schedule of Activities for the EDO governorship election which it issued in March this year.
“Prince Soyebi stressed that the Commission would not be teleguided and that it would not do anything that would mortgage Nigeria’s democracy.
“He further emphasized that the Commission robustly considered the implications of demobilizing and arrived at the fact that it was more expensive to do so.”
Since the security scare was muted by the DSS, PDP and other stakeholders have raised suspicion that APC is planning to use security apparatus to rig the election having tested voters loyalty and found that it tilts favourably towards the PDP.
On Wednesday security agencies cited security threats as reasons for their call for the cancellation of the elections slated for this Saturday.
Addressing a joint press conference at the DSS headquarters in Abuja, Force Public Relations Officer, FPRO, DCP Don Awunah, and his DSS counterpart, Garba Abdullahi, said both agencies had credible intelligence that insurgent/extremist elements were planning an attack on some vulnerable communities and soft targets with high population during the forthcoming Sallah celebrations on Monday and Tuesday next week.
The security spokesmen revealed further that Edo State was among states being earmarked for the planned attacks by the terrorists.
Awunah said, “It is in the regard of these that we we are appealing to INEC, which has the legal duty to regulate elections in the country to consider the need for possible postponement of the date of the election in Edo state in order to enable security agencies deal decisively with the envisaged terrorists’ threats.
“While the police and DSS remain mindful of the inconveniences this request may cause stakeholders, it is our strong resolve that security agencies need not be distracted from ensuring a peaceful Nigeria now and always.”
The security organs, however, assured members of the public that they would continue to remain focused and committed.
“The attention of security agencies should be drawn to any observed unusual movements or actions by groups or individuals in your neighbourhoods,” Awunah appealed.
He recalled that similar threats were issued during the May/Labour/Democracy Days celebrations as well as Ed-el-fitre holidays in July.
“However, the security agencies were able to decisively disrupt and thwart the insurgents’ plan. In the same vein, while election as important, the security agencies cannot allow the peace of the country to be disrupted, and we will continue to be vigilant and ensure consolidation of the successes gained in the current counter-insurgency fight,” he added.
APC knows it is about to lose Edo governorship election, says PDP
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, says the advice of security agencies to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on postponement of the forthcoming Edo governorship election is an attempt to scuttle the country’s democracy.
The Department of State Service, DSS, and the police had advised INEC to postpone the governorship election, citing security concerns.
But in a statement on Wednesday, Dayo Adeyeye, spokesman of the party called on PDP members and supporters to remain law-abiding and stay “alert on this calculated attempt at scuttling our hard-earned democracy.”
He accused All Progressives Congress, APC, of seeking postponement of the poll, “having seen the indices of losing the election to the PDP.”
Adeyeye said it was “lamentable” to hear that the security agencies would say that the governorship election could not hold in a state where the president and all the APC leaders and supporters held an uninterrupted rally.
“Our attention has been drawn to the shocking breaking news of the advice by the DSS and the police to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to postpone the Saturday, September 10, 2016, gubernatorial election in Edo State on excuse of insurgency alert,” the statement by Adeyeye read.
“We are taken aback on this advice, coming a day after the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari was present at the Mega Rally of his party, the APC in Benin City, which was concluded without any hitch.
“It is on record that INEC recently conducted a hitch-free senatorial by-election in Borno state, which is a high point of insurgency in the country but the security agencies saw no reason to call off the election.
“We are calling on the president, Muhammadu Buhari, to caution the security agencies and direct them to provide full security, and also to desist doing anything that will jeopardise this forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State.
“We are equally counting on INEC not to succumb to this false alarm by acting independently and holding election as scheduled.
“We hope that this advice from the security agencies are not in concert with the APC of having seen the indices of losing the Edo State Gubernatorial Election to the PDP,” the statement posited.