The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would stop the forthcoming governorship election exercise in Edo State at any point violence erupts.
In an interview with The Punch in Abuja, Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, said the commission will withdraw from the exercise even if election results are being counted.
“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,” said Okoye.
“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.”
Responding to questions on whether INEC would consider shifting election if the violence escalates before the election or the September 19, the information commissioner for INEC 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 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.”
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