There’s no basis for cancellation –INEC
… Amnesty office warns ex-agitators, youths over violence
From Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja, Taiwo Amodu and Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election in Ondo State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, yesterday, stormed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) state headquarters in Akure, to demand postponement of the election for 30 days.
Jegede, whose candidacy was restored on Wednesday, by the Court of Appeal, premised his demand on a provision of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), which he claimed stipulated that each party should make their party agents available to the commission, 14 days before the day of election.
Daily Sun gathered that the Biyi Poroye faction of the PDP, loyal to Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim had submitted a list of party agents to the commission before Wednesday’s judgment of Justice Ibrahim Salauwa-led three-man panel of the Court of Appeal which mandated INEC to recognise Jegede.
The PDP candidate, in a letter to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, noted that any letter submitted to INEC by the Poroye faction could not be said to be authentic.
“It follows from the foregoing that any list of agents purportedly forwarded by one Poroye and his fellow pretenders who had been illegally parading themselves as the state executive members of the PDP, Ondo State cannot be regarded as authentic.
“As it is, the Peoples Democratic Party has not forwarded the list of its agents to the commission.
“Whichever way one may look at the situation on ground, the governorship election of Ondo slated for November 26, if conducted, will undoubtedly be in breach of the Electoral Act.
“It is in light of the foregoing that I request you to differ the governorship election for at least 30 days so as not to conduct the election in flagrant violation of the Electoral Act, as amended.”
But, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje said tomorrow’s exercise will not be postponed and insisted that the commission was prepared for the election ctomorrow.
“We can no longer talk about postponement of the election right now. The matter is an internal dispute within the PDP and so, we cannot be talking about postponement.
“If we postpone the election, we will be losing billions of naira knowing that we have already deployed sensitive and non-sensitive materials to all the local government areas of the state,” he said.
Speaking in similar vein, the commission’s Director of Publicity and Voters’ Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi dismissed PDP’s request, saying it did not fall within the provisions of the Electoral Act for election postponement.
“I am not aware of any request for postponement. The provision for postponement is well laid out in sections 26 and 27 of the Electoral Act.Outside that, we cannot heed the call for any postponement because we cannot act outside the law,” he said.
Also, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who addressed members of the PDP in Akure demanded the election be shifted.
“What INEC did by substituting the name of Jegede with that of Ibrahim was against the law, it was against common sense and also against logic, so, it is important for INEC which puts us into the earlier mess to do the right thing by postponing the election.
The real judgment is postponement of the election. What we got at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court are true judgments, but, INEC also needs to give us true judgment by postponing the election in the interest of peace, equality and fairness,” he said.
His Ekiti State counterpart, Governor Ayodele Fayose, who was also in Akure to campaign for Jegede, called on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on INEC to prove to Nigerians that it remains an unbiased umpire.
“We expect INEC to do the right thing by shifting the date of the election, the same way it did in Edo State. If the election is not postponed, INEC will show itself as a bias umpire. We, therefore, call on prominent Nigerians to prevail on INEC to postpone the election.”
But, the All PC governorship candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu, dismissed Jegede’s demand for postponement of the election.
Akeredolu, who spoke through the Chairman, Communications Directorate of Aketi Campaign Platform, Mr. Soji Alakuro, said agitation for shift in poll was the outgoing governor’s plot for third term.
“The call for postponement of the November 26 governorship election in Ondo is not just provocative but preposterous.
“To say the least, the call, coming just after governor Mimiko’s stooge, Jegede got judicial reprieve is borne out of fear in the camp of the governor who is the brain behind such call to postpone the election.
“We are convinced that the call for the postponement of the election is just a template in their premeditated plot for violence should the looming defeat befall them at the poll.”
Meanwhile, the Presidential Amnesty Office, yesterday, warned that former Niger Delta agitators and youths who engage in electoral violence in Ondo governorship and National Assembly elections in Rivers State will be exited from the programme.
The office, in a statement by its Head of Media, Owei Lakemfa, called on youths of the region to reject being used as tools for violence in the two states.
“Amnesty Office will exit any beneficiary involved in electoral violence in Ondo and Rivers States.
“The presidential amnesty programme is saddened by the circle of electoral violence cracking up in Rivers and also, concerned about the upcoming election in Ondo.
“This has become more pronounced as preparations for the rerun election for Rivers draws closer. Such violence portends danger to the electoral and governance system in the country. It also gravely undermines the peace building efforts by the Federal Government in the region.
“The Amnesty Office appeals to all and sundry to keep the peace and abide by the rules of the electoral game to achieve stability in both states for the overall good of Nigeria,” the statement said.
Also, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (retd) warned beneficiaries of the amnesty programme to steer clear of violence in the region.