Few days to the Edo state gubernatorial poll, a rights and integrity advocacy group, Network for Best Practice and Integrity in Leadership NEBPRIL has been called upon the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to take steps to douse apprehension among Edo electorate over issues of “transparency, impartiality and integrity” of the electoral umpire to guarantee a free, fair and credible election.
NEBPRIL Chairman Hon. Afam Ogene, made this call in a letter to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, dated September 3, 2020.
It raised concern over the controversy trailing the recent redeployment of a Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr Johnson Alalibo, to Edo State, saying Alalibo “has had obvious political exposure, which is evident in his recent participation as an aspirant in governorship election in Bayelsa State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, a major contender in the coming Edo election.”
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr John Alalibo, made the call during a one-day stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting in Benin.
He noted that the commission’s efforts at ensuring free and credible elections on September 19, might suffer a setback if religious leaders failed to douse the rising tension. INEC therefore urged religious leaders to sensitise their followers to shun any form of violence in Edo.
According to him, threats of violence coupled with COVID-19 pandemic in the state can lead to voter apathy in the forthcoming elections should religious leaders fail to take responsibility as relevant stakeholders before, during and after the election.
Meanwhile, The misleading article, Flying the trite ‘APC’ll rig’ kite, authored by one Sufuyan Ojeifo could have easily been overlooked as one of the many sponsored Public Relations efforts of an Edo All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign that is now starring defeat in the face in the forthcoming September 19 governorship election in Edo State but for the fact that it could actually deceive persons who are not abreast with the issues surrounding the forthcoming election.
The campaign team also accused a former director of INEC, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, of working in cahoots with Governor Godwin Obaseki, accusing him of working as a private consultant to the governor to rig the election in the governor’s favour. In a swift reaction, Osaze-Uzzi, through his lawyers, Ahmed Raji SAN and Alex Ejesieme SAN, denied the allegation and called for the retraction of the publication across different platforms, suing the APC campaign director for N500 million as a cost for damages caused by the defamatory and false allegation. They have also made similar claims against the Nigeria Police Force, which has been denied.
INEC has also come out to denounce the allegations and insinuations that there are plans from within the commission to rig the election, as claimed by the APC campaign team.
Reacting to the allegations, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said that no staff of the commission, current or retired, had the capacity to interfere with the system
“With the innovations already in place, it is impossible for any staff of the Commission to rig the election or any other election for that matter. “Nigerians and the good people of Edo State should disregard the allegation and be rest assured that only the votes cast by eligible voters on 19th September 2020 will determine who becomes the next governor of Edo State,” he said.
15 days to the big day for Edo electorates, what is your thought about the poll? Who do you think is best for the sit?