…Kogi, Bayelsa infractions will not be tolerated – Yakubu
Tunde Opalana, Abuja
Political parties participating in the coming Edo and Ondo states governorship elections as well as candidates and their supporters have been warned not to disrupt the process, else they will have their votes invalidated.
The chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu read this riot act..
Yakubu handed down the stern warning, on while speaking at a virtual event on Democracy and Elections in West Africa, organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
The Chairman assured of the Commission’s commitment to free, fair and credible conduct in Edo State on September 19 and in Ondo State on October 10, 2020.
Professor Yakubu warned that where an election is disrupted, the commission will not make a declaration on the outcome due to lack of adherence to guiding rules of the election.
He said: “where the election is disrupted and the commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration.
“You (political parties, politicians and voters) either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says.
He said there will be no point making a declaration in such situation because the commission will not endorse fraud or function outside the minimum standard set for the conduct of credible elections anywhere.
“While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them.
“Yesterday, I had a meeting with the National Security Adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. But what pro-active measure is the commission going to take to ensure that if there is a replay of what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi, we will protect the integrity of the process,” he added.
Addressing challenges the Commission might face in conducting an election in a Coronavirus pandemic period, Yakubu, said Nigeria with 10 bye-elections and over 6.2 million voters is determined to ensure democracy is not truncated.
“Our electoral and democratic process can’t be suspended on account of the COVID19 pandemic, ” Professor Yakubu said.
He said proper measures have been put in place to contain the possible spread of COVID-19 among voters and officials.
Listing some of the measures, the INEC Chairman said, machines used for voter authentication will be disinfected, the use of face masks and a two-meter (6 feet) physical distance between voters will be enforced while infrared thermometers will be provided in voting and collation areas.
Professor Yakubu said adequate security during the process will be put in place while officials participating in the conduct of the election will be properly trained in line with advisories and guideline listed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
In her address, the Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, called for sanctions against political parties and individuals who make efforts to jeopardize electoral systems in African countries.
Hassan said unruly behaviour by politicians and their supporters should not be condoned.
She suggested that support for INEC can be given in the areas of crisis management, combating misinformation and dissuading bad behaviour.
“The international community must support INEC in the procurement process to reduce cost, civic education must be delivered on adherence to the guidelines by voters and political party members.
“Punishing bad behaviour will be very key, not just visa ban for them (politicians) and their children but making strong statements to prevent any form of violence during these elections.”, Hassan added.