Professor Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has urged political parties to see Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections as a contest and not a war.
Yakubu made the appeal during a meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the security of INEC personnel, observers, and other stakeholders remains a priority to the commission.
“The Governorship and State Assembly elections this weekend involves more constituencies than the national elections held about three weeks ago. Unlike the last elections involving 470 constituencies (1 Presidential, 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 House of Representatives seats), the State elections will involve 1,021 constituencies (28 Governorship and 993 State Assembly seats).
“There will also be more candidates involved and more collation centres to protect. They are also local elections involving keen contests. It is therefore important for parties and candidates to speak to their agents and supporters to see the elections as a contest and not war. They should refrain from acts of violence that may mar the elections or compromise the security of our personnel, observers, the media and service providers,” he noted.
The governorship elections will be held in 28 states, except in Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Osun where the elections were conducted off-cycle.
Speaking further on promise by the Inspector-General of Police to ensure that all electoral offenders in the presidential and national assembly elections are punished, Yakubu said “We look forward to receiving the case files. We will immediately set up a legal team to handle such cases in earnest.”
The National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, in his remarks advised politicians to call their supporters to order to ensure peaceful conduct during and after the polls.
“While commending the efforts of the various political parties and the individuals that participated in the last election, especially those of them that call for peace, I want to also urge individuals, especially at the state level, to demonstrate the same level of maturity.
“They should demonstrate the same level of discipline by calling their supporters to conduct themselves in a manner that is congruous with the expectations of the larger Nigerian society.
“Of course, there are channels for laying complaints and addressing these complaints.’’
He added, “So far, so good we do not envisage anything that’s going to be terrible or apocalyptic, in terms of the next few days.
“But that does not mean that we should all do away with our state of readiness. We must comply with the rules; we must also allow everyone to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens of this country.
“What we do not want to happen is for anybody to take the law into his or her own hands.’’