The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties participating in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections that it will not condone any form of violence or other acts that can endanger the lives of voters and election officials.
The commission advised the various political parties to conduct their primaries “in full compliance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Political Party Primaries (2018) and the NBC Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of COVID-l9 Pandemic of 21 May 2020”.
A statement by its National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said: “As we prepare for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, we appeal to political parties sponsoring candidates and participating in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections to eschew violence and conduct their activities in the best traditions of electoral democracy.
“Political parties must shun all acts capable of breaching the peace and unsettling the peace and order of the state and jeopardising the health and safety of party members, election officials and observers.
“The commission will not condone acts of electoral impunity during these end-of-tenure governorship elections and the forthcoming bye-elections. The commission will work collaboratively with all the security agencies to ensure a good electoral environment for the conduct of elections.”
It continued that, “in addition to the concerns about the health of stakeholders is the related concern about the security of lives against physical harm to persons as well as private and public property. In the understanding that impunity encourages perpetrators of election offences, the Commission is vigorously prosecuting offenders.
“So far, 16 case files arising out of the 2019 General Elections have been provided by the Police (the lead agency for electoral security) on conclusion of investigation. The cases are in Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Gombe, Kogi, Lagos and Niger States, ranging from snatching and destruction of election materials, disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of ballot papers and Permanent Voters’ Cards to canvassing for votes at polling units on election day.
“Besides, two cases emanating from the Bayelsa Governorship election and relating to snatching and destruction of electoral materials are also being prosecuted”