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‘March 18 Elections Not War’ — INEC Boss, NSA Tell Political Parties

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has appealed to political parties to see Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections as a contest and not a war.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu made the appeal during a meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, the security of INEC personnel, observers, and other stakeholders remains a priority to the commission.

Yakubu urged political leaders to refrain from acts that may mar the election or compromise the security of INEC personnel, observers and other stakeholders.

He said that the governorship election would hold in 28 states, with the exception of Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Osun where the election was conducted off-cycle, adding that the Houses of Assembly election would hold in all the 993 state constituencies across the country.

“Unlike the last elections involving 470 constituencies (one Presidential, 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 House of Representatives seats), the State elections will involve 1,021 constituencies (28 Governorship and 993 State Assembly seats).

“There will also be more candidates involved and more collation centres to protect. They are also local elections involving keen contests.

“It is therefore important for parties and candidates to speak to their agents and supporters to see the elections as a contest and not war.

“They should refrain from acts of violence that may mar the elections or compromise the security of our personnel, observers, the media and service providers,’’ Yakubu said.

The INEC Chairman commended the security agencies for their professional conduct during the Feb. 25 presidential and National Assembly election.

Yakubu said that INEC looked forward to an improved performance in Saturday’s election.

“The commission is encouraged by the directive to state Commands by the Inspector General of Police to handle all cases of electoral offences expeditiously.

“We look forward to receiving the case files. We will immediately set up a legal team to handle such cases in earnest,’’ Yakubu said.

In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, advised politicians to call their supporters in order to ensure peaceful conduct of Saturday’s election.

Mongonu said individuals who had plans to undermine the election process must have a re-think or face the consequences of their actions.

“While commending the efforts of the various political parties and the individuals that participated in the last election, especially those of them that call for peace, I want to also urge individuals, especially at the state level, to demonstrate the same level of maturity.

“They should demonstrate the same level of discipline by calling their supporters to conduct themselves in a manner that is congruent with the expectations of the larger Nigerian society.

“Of course, there are channels for laying complaints and addressing these complaints.’’

Mongonu pledged that security agencies would continue to give support to all stakeholders in the election to exercise their franchise and responsibilities.

Commending professional conduct of security personnel in the last election, the NSA advised them to ensure that no individual took law into his hands in the Saturday’s election.

“So far, so good we do not envisage anything that’s going to be terrible or apocalyptic, in terms of the next few days.

“But that does not mean that we should all do away with our state of readiness. We must comply with the rules; we must also allow everyone to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens of this country.

“What we do not want to happen is for anybody to take the law into his or her own hands.’’

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