Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police to ensure free and credible electoral process in the 28 rerun and by-elections slated for January 25, in 11 states.
A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the President gave the directive when he met with the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, other top officials of the electoral body and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu behind closed door at the Villa, yesterday.
“Those that you declare as winners must be the candidates that the people have chosen. Democracy is about free will and the will of the people must be allowed to prevail. Get your acts right, and leave no room for underhand tricks or manipulation,” the president said.
He also assured of his determination to give Nigerians an electoral system that meets with best practices anywhere in the world, and charged the electoral umpire to stick to the rules of fair play and justice.
President Buhari tasked the IGP to secure the electoral process without bias or favouritism. “Our elections must be done in violence-free atmosphere. The process must be free, fair, and decent, devoid of intimidation or malpractices. It is the duty of the police to accomplish that, and it is what I expect in the elections immediately ahead and going forward,” he said.
Adesina said that both INEC and the police pledged a fidelity to the rules and regulations, stating that they knew President Buhari as someone passionately committed to fair play. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu said they met the president on the litigations on national and state Houses of Assembly elections.
Said yakuza: “It is essentially on the conclusion of all the litigations with respect to all the national and state Houses of Assembly elections arising from the 2019 general elections. So far 30 elections were nullified by courts’ orders, some in whole state constituencies and others in pocket constituencies. We have conducted two elections in Kogi West and Ajaokuta federal constituencies. We have 28 elections outstanding spread across 11 states of the federation and the Commission has already fixed January 25 – that is in the next 19 days for the conduct of the courts ordered re-run elections and we are ready for these elections.
“In addition, we met with Mr. President and he reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the processes of free and fair environment were secured for that to happen. That was why the meeting was held involving the electoral commission and the IGP.”
Adamu, the IGP said “the government wants to have an election process that is equal to none in terms of example that could be given to the world. So that free, fair and credible elections will take place and for that reason there must be a secured environment.”