INEC to begin prosecution of electoral offenders

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has hinted that it will soon begin the prosecution of electoral offenders apprehended in the course of the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure recently when he received a delegation from Bayelsa State, led by the Governor, Seriake Dickson, represented by the state’s deputy governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah (rtd).

He said: “Arising from the arrests made by the security agencies in the 2019 general elections, the Commission will soon commence the prosecution of offenders whose case files have been prepared by the Nigeria Police.”

While responding to an appeal by the delegation to consider a change in the earlier announced date for the conduct of the Bayelsa and Kogi states’ governorship elections scheduled for November 2, 2019, the INEC Chairman said: “We have listened to you. At the next meeting of the Commission, your appeal will be examined and the Commission’s decision will be announced by Friday this week.”

He explained that “a few weeks ago on 9th April 2019, we released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections. The Commission fixed Saturday 2nd November 2019 for the elections in the two states. Shortly after the release of the timetable, we received a letter from Bayelsa State Government drawing the Commission’s attention that the 2nd of November each year has been designated as Thanksgiving Day in Bayelsa State and declared work-free by an Act of the State Assembly.

“The State Government has appealed to the Commission to reconsider the date for this reason. The Speaker of the State Assembly, religious leaders and other stakeholders made a similar appeal to the Commission. Today, all the stakeholders are here to further reiterate their appeal”.

Professor Yakubu used the opportunity to appeal to the people of Bayelse and Kogi states to play by the rules in order to aid the Commission conduct the election under a conducive atmosphere for free, fair and credible poll. His words: “May I seize this opportunity to appeal to all stakeholders in Bayelsa and Kogi states to ensure that the forthcoming Governorship elections are devoid of hate speech, intimidation of voters and INEC officials, vote buying, violence including bombing and arson that led to the destruction of election materials and INEC facilities in the last Governorship elections in the two States and other sundry violations of the law.

“I urge you to appeal to your supporters to ensure that the creeks and waterways, the hills and forests, urban and rural areas, the polling units and collation centres are free of thugs who unleash mayhem that turn a simple democratic process into needless bloodletting.”

He continued: “I want to assure you that on our part, the Commission is committed to a free, fair and credible process. We will deploy early, adhere to our guidelines and regulations and ensure a transparent and prompt collation and declaration of results.

“May I seize this opportunity to appeal to all stakeholders in Bayelsa and Kogi States to ensure that the forthcoming Governorship elections are devoid of hate speech, intimidation of voters and INEC officials, vote buying, violence including bombing and arson that led to the destruction of election materials and INEC facilities in the last Governorship elections in the two States and other sundry violations of the law.

“I urge you to appeal to your supporters to ensure that the creeks and waterways, the hills and forests, urban and rural areas, the polling units and collation centres are free of thugs who unleash mayhem that turn a simple democratic process into needless bloodletting”, the INEC Chairman added .

The INEC boss assured that the Commission will keep to its mandate of conducting its activities in a free, fair and credible manner.  “I want to assure you that for our part, the Commission is committed to a free, fair and credible process,” he said, adding, “We will deploy early, adhere to our guidelines and regulations and ensure a transparent and prompt collation and declaration of results.”

Earlier, the Governor of Bayelsa, represented by his deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah (rtd), appealed to the Commission to consider a change of scheduled the November 2 governorship election in the state.

He noted that it will be in the interest of the people of the state and to allow them appreciate God for the creation of the state and what he has done for them so far.

“INEC has a duty to set a date, and again, it won’t be out of place for us to plead with INEC that because of the involvement of all Bayelsan’s and with the way we do the thanksgiving, it is not limited to Yenagoa, every community in the state is involved to give thanks to God on that date for what God has done for us. it is on this that the governor specifically selected all major stakeholders to be here.

“It is on this note that the Christian community approached the governor for us to make this plea to consider the date fixed for the election. We are also concerned that if it is fixed on that day could possibly affect the turnout of voters. We want everybody to be in election to come out to vote en-masse as would be required by INEC. Any other day can be fixed that will not clash with this date, will be good for us. It is a plea that we are making that the people of Bayelsa will also say that their wishes are respected. We are very hopeful that our plea will be taken in good light”.

Members of the delegation include, the Secretary to the state Government, representative of the Bayelsa Traditional Council, Party Leaders, religious leaders and representatives of other stakeholders in the state.

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