…Abdulsalami leads peace panel to Benin Tuesday
By Henry Umoru
AHEAD of September 19 Edo State Governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has deployed additional five Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and three National Commissioners (NCs) to the state.
The additional five Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs who are drawn from five geopolitical zones of the country are expected to work in synergy with the Edo State REC, Johnson Alalibo.
Of the six geo- political zones of the country, only that from South-South was not drafted to Edo State to participate in supervising the conduct of the election.
Disclosing this yesterday in Abuja, a top official of INEC who did not name the five RECs that have been deployed to Edo State, said that the two National Commissioners are not of South- South extraction, adding that refusal to disclose the identities of those on redeployment was to safeguard them from undue pressure from desperate politicians.
According to the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, that the redeployments are to ensure that the Commission maintained a high level of neutrality and fairness in the electoral process.
The INEC Senior official also disclosed that the General Abdusalami Abubakar, retd-led National Peace Committee will converge on Benin, next Tuesday to meet with politicians, Governorship candidates of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, All Progressives Congress, APC and others for peace accord.
According to the source, 13,000 staff as well as 211 Electoral officers will be deployed to Edo State for the election.
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Speaking further, the source who admitted that violence now and during the election was frightening and worrisome, said that the Commission was doing everything possible to conduct a free, fair and credible election and had no interest in who wins but the transparency of the process.
The source said: “We’re prepared to conduct the elections and we are doing everything possible to ensure that it is free and fair. But we are worried about the threats of violence and we are not unmindful of the antics of the politicians. Violence will make the election inconclusive because we will be forced to pull out our men and materials from the field if violence becomes the order of the day.
“Section 53 of the Electoral Act prohibits INEC from marking a declaration of results in any place where there is violence. This is why we have continued to warn all parties to shun violence and allow the process to go on under a free and fair atmosphere.
“We are keeping our eyes on the process. We are not a political party. We have no candidates in the election. I swear by God that we don’t care who wins the election. Our interest is in the integrity of the process.”