The Situation Room, a coalition of over two dozen civil society groups, on Friday said it was “deeply dismayed” at the postponement of the gubernatorial elections in Edo State.
The Independent National Electoral Commission announced on Thursday that the election, previously scheduled to hold on September 10, would be postponed until September 28 in line with the recommendations of security agencies.
The Nigeria Police Force and the State Security Service had said on Wednesday said they could not guarantee the security of electoral officers and the state’s electorate if INEC went ahead with the exercise.
The development has earned INEC and the security agencies widespread criticism from Nigerians.
The Situation Room added its voice on Friday, describing the postponement as “part of a disturbing trend in the erosion of public trust in our public officers, public institutions as well a growing skepticism about the general direction of our democracy under this administration.”
In the statement, which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES by Clement Nwankwo of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Situation Room said the security agencies preempted INEC when they unilaterally announced their lack of readiness and made a mockery of the “constitutionally guaranteed independence” of the electoral body.
“This unfortunate chain of events raises some serious questions about a possible breach of the constitutionally guaranteed independence of INEC, the growing overreach of Security Apparatchiks who effectively in this election have forced their own electoral timetable on INEC, the good people of Edo State and by extension citizens of this country,” the statement said.
“We join the pain of the good people of Edo State over this unwarranted assault on democracy.”
The Situation Room, therefore, urged all parties in the state to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner while preparing towards the new election date.
“We call on all the political parties in Edo State to prepare for the new date for elections and to conduct themselves in a peaceful and orderly manner.”
Godwin Obaseki, the APC candidate, and Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP are the main contenders in the race to replace incumbent Adams Oshiomhole whose two-term tenure expires this November.