The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has stated that it would not hesitate to suspend the Edo and Ondo governorship election process if the actions of political gladiators degenerate into a breakdown of law and order.
This is just as the Commission reassured the people of the two states of its determination to conduct free, fair, credible and safe elections in the two states, calling on residents to support the process.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye made this known today in Abuja, shortly after a meeting political stakeholders where several issues concerning the two elections were discussed.
He stated that INEC had observed with deep concern, the levels of violent actions and incendiary statements by political parties, candidates and their supporters, in the run-up to the elections.
“These actions include destruction of opponents’ campaign materials such as billboards, violent campaigns and use of offensive language.
“It is important for political parties, candidates and their supporters to keep in mind that there are extant laws and regulations that must be adhered to, during campaigns.
“The commission will not shirk its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game.
“Consequently, parties and candidates must, on no account, underestimate the resolve of the commission to enforce the rules and regulations and apply appropriate sanctions against those who choose to break them. READ ALSO: INEC introduces election result viewing portal
“The commission remains determined to conduct peaceful elections in the two states and in the outstanding National and State Assembly bye-elections.”
Political parties, Okoye stated must realise that Edo and Ondo governorship elections were taking place at a time of a global pandemic and the commission was working assiduously to observe and comply with all health and safety protocols issued by the commission and health authorities, adding that with the pandemic taking its toll on the citizenry, the people of Edo and Ondo states must be saved from the added burden of violent and raucous elections.
“Political parties must remember that Edo and Ondo governorship elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines and threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis.
“The commission will continue to engage stakeholders in the two states on the need for free, fair, safe and peaceful elections, given that it has committed enormous public resources in preparing for them.
“The commission will view gravely, any disruptive actions by political actors,” he warned. Okoye said that the commission would work with, and collaborate with the security agencies to contain incidents or threats of violence before and during the elections.
“Regulatory agencies with roles in the elections, especially those dealing with insecurity, hate speech and abuse of mass media, must step up their activities and ensure that people caught breaking the law were held to account,” he said.