No party ’ll win elections through violence, INEC warns
• Army assures electoral umpire of tight security at 2019 polls
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that no political party will henceforth win elections through violence in Rivers.The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Obo Effanga, read the riot act at a one-day voter sensitisation and education seminar ahead of the 2019 polls organised by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the warning was informed by the suspended Port Harcourt State Constituency III by- election on August 18, 2018 following attacks on officials of the electoral body and other disruptive activities by suspected thugs.Decrying the frightening bloodletting that has attended elections in recent times in the state, the INEC chief regretted that no one had been prosecuted since 1999.
Effanga had halted the State of House Assembly by-election after the exercise was disrupted in over 100 of the 142 units.He cautioned politicians that the era of winning polls through violence was over, adding that the electoral umpire had resolved to end “whatsoever it is that makes people kill and maim others in a bid to gain political ascendency.”
The REC explained that the credibility of any election does not depend on who wins or loses but on the entire process. Effanga assured CAN that he would conduct credible polls in the state come next year.
Chairman, Rivers Christian Ecumenical Centre, Rev. Dan Obinna, said the sensitisation followed the finding by CAN that ignorance was contributing immensely to voters’ apathy.
“We believe that a gathering like this will help to enlighten us to avoid the Esua and Jacob unfortunate episode of one selling his birthright for a piece of pottage, or giving out one’s stake in governance thereby denying oneself the opportunity to have a say in the choice of leadership,” he added.
The Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, represented by S.T West, assured the citizenry of the neutrality of the force before, during and after the elections.
State Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Oliver Wolugbom, traced the history of electoral violence in Rivers to post-1999.He lamented that the church had been quiet for a long time, urging clerics to rally against the menace.
In a related development, the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Abdulmalik Biu, has assured INEC of adequate security during the 2019 general elections.He gave the assurance when the Borno State REC, Mohammed Magaji, paid him a courtesy visit at Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri.
The military chief noted that the support was to enable the commission organise hitch-free elections in the states affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. The Acting GOC described the electoral agency as a critical institution to democratic process that was capable of enthroning good governance and accountability in the polity.
The visitor thanked the Army for returning peace to the troubled zone through its counter-insurgency and terrorism operations.He solicited the military’s assistance in the distribution of permanent voters’ cards (PVCs).
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