Protesters besiege INEC headquarters, demand credible polls in Kogi, Bayelsa

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Hundreds of protesters yesterday barricaded the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja to demand for free, fair and credible governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. The protesters, led by Adebayo Raphael, the convener of Free Nigeria Movement, accused the Commission of conducting the 2019 general elections below the minimum standard.

Adebayo urged the Commission to put in place strong mechanisms that would make the two elections to be adjudged as free, fair and credible.A letter submitted to the Commission after the protest, signed by Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians, noted: “We write to express our concern on the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States and to equally state emphatically that these scheduled polls offer the Commission a great opportunity to right the wrongs of the 2019 general elections, correct the mistakes of the past and improve on the gaps identified by local and international observers. 

“We have read multiple media reports on your concern that thugs have been heavily mobilised to disrupt the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa states governorship elections. While we commend the honesty of the Commission in its risk assessment report on the forthcoming elections, we must strongly urge the commission to be firm and unbiased in dealing with any form of electoral misconduct or violence by any of the political parties during the forthcoming elections.”

The group further urged the Commission to cancel the ballot at every polling unit where violence erupts during the elections, adding that it would serve as a strong deterrent to politicians and political parties who are bent on using violence to undermine Nigeria’s elections and subvert the will of the people.

They also appealed to the Commission to develop a monitoring and feedback template for deploying police officers, so as to be able to hold to account any unit that fails to act in preventing any form of electoral malpractice, stating that the Police are mandated to also do a ward-by-ward report of their activities on the election day.

The group also asked the Commission to declare its intention on the use of the card reader and manual accreditation for the forthcoming elections, insisting that it was crucial, as it would show the commitment of the Commission to transparency and accountability, as well as help to reinforce trust in the electoral process.They also urged the Commission to stay true to its promise that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) would not be disenfranchised during the elections.

“To engender inclusiveness in the electoral process, it is important that the IDPs in Kogi and Bayelsa states are allowed to vote in the forthcoming governorship elections.“While looking forward to peaceful, credible and inclusive elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, we sincerely hope that these two elections would return Nigeria to the path of electoral redemption,” they added.

The Guardian

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