Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has issued a stern warning to politicians ahead of the governorship elections in Ondo and Edo states.
Nigeria has governorship elections scheduled to take place in Ondo and Edo on October 20 and September 19, respectively.
Prof. Yakubu boss, who spoke at a virtual event on Democracy and Elections in West Africa organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), said INEC is committed to ensuring free, fair and credible elections.
The event sought to bring to the limelight, the future of democracy in the West African region.
INEC chairman said where an election is disrupted, the commission will not make a declaration on the outcome due to lack of adherence to guiding rules of the election.
“Where the election is disrupted and the commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration.”
Noting that political parties have been duly noted on this, Yakubu said: “You (political parties, politicians and voters) either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says.”
Yakubu said there will be no point making a declaration in such situation because the commission will not endorse fraud or function outside the minimum standard set for the conduct of credible elections anywhere.
“While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them.
“Yesterday, I had a meeting with the national security adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. But what pro-active measure is the commission going to take to ensure that if there is a replay of what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi, we will protect the integrity of the process,” he added.
Addressing challenges the commission might face in conducting an election in a Coronavirus pandemic period, he said Nigeria with 10 bye-elections and over 6.2 million voters was determined to ensure democracy is not truncated.
“Our electoral and democratic process can’t be suspended on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He said proper measures have been put in place to contain the possible spread of COVID-19 among voters and officials.
Listing some of the measures, the INEC Chairman said, machines used for voter authentication will be disinfected, the use of face masks and a two-meter (six feet) physical distance between voters will be enforced while infrared thermometers will be provided in voting and collation areas.
He said adequate security during the process will be put in place while officials participating in the conduct of the election will be properly trained in line with advisories and guideline listed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).