A Civil Society Organisation has condemned the attempt by the Police and State Security Service (SSS) to force the postponement of the Edo State Governorship Election scheduled for Saturday.
In a statement issued to journalists in Abuja, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, YIAGA, warned the two agencies against undermining Nigeria’s democracy and the sovereignty of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The Police and the SSS had on Wednesday issued a joint statement asking INEC to postpone the election.
The security operatives said the call was to prevent alleged attack planned by insurgents on the state during the election.
The call has been condemned by various stakeholders including the People Democratic Party, PDP, who described the move as bizarre and shocking.
A coalition of Nigerian civil society groups, under the aegis of the Transition Monitoring Group had also stated that the call of the security operatives was “poorly timed, wrongly presented” and capable of eroding the confidence of Nigerians in the electoral system.
In its statement, YIAGA, a youth-based non-governmental organization that promotes democratic governance, human rights and youth political participation, said the call was aimed at undermining the independence of INEC.
“We believe the purported call is aimed at undermining the independence of the electoral commission. The call reeks of interference on the part of the Nigerian Police and DSS who are members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security.
“The unilateral decision taken by the Nigerian Police and SSS without due consultation with the INEC suggests a deliberate and well-orchestrated plot to rubbish the image of INEC and portray her as an institution incapable of fulfilling its mandate.
“We wish to remind the Nigerian Police and SSS, that elections have been conducted in difficult terrains where there was credible and verifiable evidence of likely breach of peace. For instance elections were conducted in the hotbeds of the insurgency in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states in 2015 and these elections were hitch-free,” the group said.
INEC on Thursday resolved to carry on with the election, explaining that it will not be tele-guided.
Addressing journalists at the Edo State office of the Commission Thursday afternoon, the National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity Committee of INEC, Solomon Soyebi, said the Commission had reached not less than 97 per cent level of preparation for the conduct of the election.
Mr. Soyebi stressed that the Commission would not be teleguided and that it would not do anything that would mortgage Nigeria’s democracy.
He emphasized that the Commission considered the implications of demobilizing and arrived at the fact that it was more expensive to do so.
The Edo election is expected to be strongly fought between the candidate of the incumbent governing All Progressives Congress, Godwin Obaseki, and his PDP challenger, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.