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Polls: INEC, Amina Zakari, security agencies our concern, PDP tells EU observers

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Friday, informed the European Union Election Observation Group that the party is deeply worried that certain decisions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), unconstitutional roles of security agencies and the body language of the Presidency might fraught the credibility of the coming general elections. The party said it is still not convinced that the Presidency is totally sincere in ensuring free, fair and credible election because of government’s many inactions. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, petitioned the European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2019, who were at the party’s National secretariat, Abuja on Friday. Ologbondiyan expressed concern over the presence of Amina Zakari in the Commission, the role of security agencies and the INEC itself. The party spokesman said that apart from the PDP, majority of the 91 political parties are concerned with the dangerous trend of having Mrs. Amina Zakari as Chairman of INEC National Election Collation Centre. He said: “Amina Zakari should not be found anywhere near the process. We have made our position known to INEC because there will be a direct conflict of interest.” Ologbondiyan expressed concern about the use of security agents in the past elections conducted under this administration. He said: “We believe that election should be free and fair. PDP subscribed to all the tenets of democracy. President Muhammadu Buhari is paying lip service to free, fair and transparent election. “He refused to assent to the electoral amendment bill. We are convinced that the President was never prepared for free and fair election. PDP as a party does not believe in violence, but would like presidency and INEC to conduct free and fair election, outside of this, we will not agree.” He pointed out that the mistake PDP made was to have allowed All Progressives Congress (APC) that has no business in governance to take over government. Hannah Roberts, Deputy Chief Observer, European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2019, who led the team, said the group is committed to transparent and unbiased monitoring of the 2019 general election. As part of pre- election responsibilities, she said the group has been having discussions with range of people, and other contenders and stakeholders. She said though the group was invited into the country by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), they will meet stakeholders vital to the success of the poll to assess the level of their preparations, their concerns and suggestions. “We have contact with key person in the party, we hope you will make yourself available, so that we can know what is going on. As you know we are invited into the country by INEC. “We have observers as we have in the past spread around the country. In different parts so that they can see the reality on ground. The Chief observer will be coming in to observe the election”, she said. Roberts, however, assured of the neutrality of the observers in the electoral process. She said: “We can’t control anything, our mandate is to observe and make recommendations and issue statement, particularly after the election. And finally recommendations after the election, in order to make future election better”. Tunde Opalana, Abuja

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