By Tunde Opalana
The National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Tuesday vouched for the integrity of its officials especially Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), Daily Times gathered.
His defence came against the backdrop of alleged hobnobbing of Mr Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom state with the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Yakubu described such allegations against Igini as distractive to the task ahead of the Commission in conducting free, fair, and credible elections in Edo, Ondo, and by-elections in eight states.
He made the clarification while fielding questions from journalists after the swearing-in of a new Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Tella Adeniran Rahmon who was deployed in Ekiti State.
Yakubu said “the REC himself responded and in my discussions with him on Monday, he said he has also asked his lawyers to initiate legal actions against the person who made the statement. So, we leave it at that since the matter is likely to go to court. But let me also say this, that we stand by our Resident Electoral Commissioners.
“We know the kind of job we are doing on the eve of elections. All manner of people come with all manner of accusations to slander officials of the commission and essentially to divert our attention from the onerous task of conducting elections in the country.
“We won’t be distracted. We know all these shenanigans, people have been doing this for a long time. It will not distract us from doing what is right.
“My assurance to the people of Edo and the people of Ondo and then the people of the 13 constituencies where we are going to conduct bye-elections on October 31 is that they should expect from INEC free, fair and credible elections; professional conduct.
“We will not compromise our oath of office for any reason. Whoever the people vote for becomes their governor or representative. This is our assurance to Nigerians.”
The INEC Chairman tasked the new REC to adhere to the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
He said; “A new REC has just been sworn in after you were nominated by the appointing authority and confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We have now down our own part. Your appointment is coming on the eve of the Edo Governorship election which is holding on September 19 and then on October 10, it would be the turn of the people of Ondo State to elect their own governor, then on 31st October, the commission will conduct 14 bye-elections in 10 states of the Federation. So, you are welcome on board. The only business that the commission knows is conducting elections.
“You are going to be responsible for managing resources and personnel in the state you are going to be deployed to. So, you should manage resources prudently. You should be firm and always mindful of the fact that ours is an onerous responsibility and you must always be on the side of the Electoral Act, our guidelines and regulations, and above all, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
In his remark, the new REC pledged to abide by the Electoral Act and all extant regulations guiding the conduct and management of elections in the country. Dr. Rahmon is a lecturer and hails from Osun State.
He was sworn in by the INEC Director of Legal Services, Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola.