Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Albert OGRAKA:
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally bowed to pressure from key stakeholders’ call for urgent shift of the governorship polls in Edo state, as it announced late Thursday that the date of the Edo governorship election has been rescheduled to hold on September, 28, 2016, due to security reasons.
After a series of consultation and initial show of defiance, the Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC finally buckled.
But the main opposition party, PDP has described the postponement as illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the peoples’ trust in the Commission and the security agencies.
The electoral body made the announcement at exactly 8:00pm, during a press conference at the commission’s office in Benin City, Edo State. The decision to postpone the election was reached at a security meeting also held in Benin, the Edo State capital.
Solomon Soyebi, INEC national Commissioner in-charge of voter education and publicity, who made the disclosure said the election would now hold on September 28.
The national commissioner revealed that the Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubuand other national officials of the commission had agreed on the poll shift and attributed the postponement to alleged security threat as reported by security agencies.
Also, Nick Dazang, spokesman for the commission, confirmed that, “We have now decided to shift the election forward for another two weeks.”
The electoral commission had earlier on Thursday rejected the call for postponement by the Nigeria Police Force ( NPF) and the Department of State Services (DSS). The commission had said it would not be “teleguided”, and argued that suspending the polls would be costly after reaching at least 97 per cent readiness level.
Shortly after making that announcement, the commission backtracked and said it agreed to postpone the elections based on the security concerns cited by the police and the SSS.
Recall that the Nigeria Police Force ( NPF) and the Department of State Services (DSS), had appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission to postpone the Edo governorship election scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 2016, citing security threat.
The Force Spokesman, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Don Awunah, who made the joint call on behalf of the Police and the DSS in Abuja, had claimed that credible intelligence available to the agencies indicated plans by insurgent and extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and soft targets during the election.
Awunah said that Edo was among the states being earmarked for the planned attacks by the extremists between Sept. 12 and 13respectively, adding tthat”while election was important, security agencies cannot allow the peace of the country to be disrupted. ”
Godwin Obaseki, the APC candidate, is slugging it out with Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP in the race to replace incumbent Adams Oshiomhole whose two-term tenure expires this November.
Meanwhile, incumbent Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomole told newsmakers that “it is very painful that the election was postponed because it also meant the postponement of the final burial ceremony of PDP in Edo State, which according to him, will not exceed the new date.
The main opposition party, PDP, and its leaders have also condemned the postponement and described it as “a coup against the people of Edo State,” explaining that changing the date “was a less than ingenious attempt to ‘buy time’ for the governing All Progressives Congress, APC”.
“It is shameful and indeed a major constitutional breach for the security agencies to act in concert with the APC to truncate an Election that had been planned for months,” the party said in a statement signed by Dayo Adeyeye, its interim spokesperson.
“Nigerians were not deceived by the obvious concoctions of the security agencies whose performances during elections have been less than average since the advent of the Buhari Administration.
“The postponement of the Election by INEC is illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the peoples’ trust in the Commission and the security agencies.
“It is a coup against the people of Edo State in particular and Nigerians in general. Since APC assumed power, virtually all elections conducted by INEC have either been inconclusive or truncated.”
In his reaction, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose described the postponement as “beginning of the end for democracy in Nigeria.”
“It is obvious that the All Progressives Congress (APC) feared that it can’t win the election and is ready to employ whatever crude means to subvert the wish of the people,” he said.
“How can you postpone an election less than 48 hours to the scheduled date? What manner of security concern could prevent an election in just one state when elections were held in Northeast States that are confronted by Boko Haram insurgents?” the Ekiti governor said.
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Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –
E.I.C: Albert Eruorhe Ograka