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We can’t hold elections without police, INEC insists

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, declared that it could not conduct any elections without security officials, especially police personnel in the country.

Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Emeka Ononamadu, told journalists and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that it could not conduct the Isi-Uzo state constituency bye-election earlier scheduled for October 31, 2020 due to the #EndSARS protests.

INEC had declared the Isi-Uzo State Constituency in Enugu State vacant following the death of its former representative, Chijioke Ugwueze.
Wife of the late lawmaker, Amaka Ugwueze, however, emerged Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, while the All Progressives Congress (APC) picked Macdonald Ejiofor Okwor as its candidate.

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“In INEC, we see elections as a national issue and so, we cannot fix any date on our own, because of the present situation in the country as a result of the #EndSARS protests.

“It is unfortunate that people are still in fear and the police personnel are yet to come back to their duty posts due to the incident and we cannot conduct the election without the presence of Nigeria police personnel,” he said.

Ononamadu, who lamented the low turnout of voters in the last general elections in the state added: “We don’t also want to experience another low turnout in the Isi-Uzo state constituency bye-election, because we don’t want to arrive at polling units and see only 20 voters out of 1,000 voters coming out to exercise their franchise. We want to run inclusive, free and fair election that will be acceptable to all.”

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Meanwhile, stakeholders at the meeting expressed mixed feelings over the conduct of the election.

While some argued that the conduct of the election was possible despite the situation in the country, others said the people should be allowed more time to overcome their fears and trauma.

Executive Director of Hope Givers Initiative, Onyeka Udegbunam, said the election might not be feasible this year as police personnel who were targeted during the #EndSARS protest had yet to return to work.

Also, Executive Director of Disability Policy and Empowerment Consult, Sam Obiefuna, cautioned against instigating fear in the electorate saying: “We should not take the issue of hoodlums too far, because if we allow fear among ourselves, the election may not hold even in January next year.”

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