INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu

By Nefishetu Yakubu

The Senate committee on Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC), on Sunday warned political actors in Edo against violence during the Sept. 19, governorship polls in the state.

Its chairman, Sen Kabiru Gaya, handed down the warning when the committee visited the commission’s office in Benin.

Gaya said that the committee was in Edo on oversight functions to ascertain the INEC’s preparedness for the Saturday’s polls.

“From what we have seen, INEC is ready for the elections. We have been told that they have 14 activities lined up for the elections, of which they have successfully executed 11 and the remaining three will be ongoing until the election day.

“We will give them all the needed support to ensure that the elections are conducted as scheduled,” he assured.

Gaya appealed for synergy between security agencies and the state government in ensuring  a peaceful atmosphere for the conduct of the elections.

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“Free and fair election is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere but in the event that there is crisis, we advice that the election should be postponed.

“We are in the process of amending the Electoral Act and also in the process of enacting the Electoral Offences Act which would enable perpetrators of election violence to be prosecuted.

“So, we are warning all political actors to ensure that there is peace in Edo,” he said.

He, therefore, charged the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in the state to work with the various security agencies to provide adequate security both  during and after the elections.

Also speaking, the committees vice chairman,  Sen. Sahabi Ya’u, advised the ICT unit of INEC to monitor the activities of its staff members to avoid possible sabotage within.

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“The survival of democracy depends largely on the credibility of the electoral process,” Ya’u said.

On his part, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, a member of the committee, urged INEC to stand firm and remain neutral.

“INEC is on trial right now, the whole world is watching to know what will happen. It is up to you to ensure Nigerians are satisfied with the process.

“If anyone uses any of you to sabotage the process, it will be on you. You need to stand firm and be neutral.

“Four years ago, we witnessed violence in this state. Some persons scattered some polling units and ballots boxes

“Yet, results still came from those places. I hope that will not happen again,” Ekweremadu appealed.

Ekweremadu appealed to the REC to ensure that Card Readers were properly charged, configured and tested before deployment to polling  and voting points.

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Earlier, the REC, Mr Johnson Alalibo, told the Senators that the commission was fully ready for the elections, adding that 11 of  14 items listed on the schedule of activities had been completed.

Alalibo said the commission had trained security personnel, INEC staff, CSOs, Electoral Officers, youth corps members among others for the conduct of the elections.

According to him, the configuration of the smart card readers and the z-pad to be deployed for the elections is currently ongoing. (NAN)