FCT COUNCIL ELECTION: INEC ASSURES FAIR PLAY ….As political parties sign Peace Accord for Saturday’s Area Council poll
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has assured voters of free, fair election ahead Council Polls,
The INEC Boss, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance during a Stakeholders meeting on the Area Council Election held at Abuja yesterday, ahead of the Federal Capital Territory Council elections which comes up on Saturday, February 12, 2022.
In his address to participants, Professor Mahmood said that they are working with security agencies to ensure that all players in the election including observers and the media are granted unimpeded access to voting and collation locations and are secured.
He then assured stakeholders that the Commission will protect the transparency and integrity of the electoral process hence they have accredited a total of two thousand, two hundred and forty-two field observers, three hundred and forty journalists to cover the election.
Yakubu who disclosed that INEC have accredited a total of two thousand, two hundred and forty-two field observers, three hundred and forty journalists to cover the election however called on the media and observers to operate within the context of the code of conduct for election observation and media coverage and the staff adhering strictly to the rules and regulations guiding the Electoral process as no one will benefit from the disruption of the process or other acts of bad behaviour.
The INEC Boss extracted commitment from political parties and their candidates by leading them into pledging and signing a peace accord by contestants in 14 political parties.
“I would like to assure all stakeholders that the Commission will protect the transparency and integrity of the process. In line with this commitment, we have accredited 58 observer groups (53 domestic and 5 foreign) that are deploying a total of 2,242 field observers. We have similarly accredited 45 media organisations deploying 340 journalists to cover the election. We will work with the security agencies to ensure that observers and the media are granted unimpeded access to voting and collation locations. I call upon the media and observers to operate within the context of the code of conduct for election observation and media coverage.
“The Commission is also deploying six Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to support the REC for the FCT and three National Commissioners to supervise the conduct of the election. Our eyes are on all our officials, be they ad hoc or regular staff, to ensure that they strictly abide by the rules. All parties, candidates and their supporters should do the same. No one will benefit from the disruption of the process or other acts of bad behaviour. Let the voters in the FCT choose their leaders in a free, fair and peaceful contest.
“I would like to reiterate that voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units, is a violation of the law. The ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force.
“So far, there are no adverse reports of clashes between supporters of different parties and not many incidents of hate or inciting speeches during the electioneering campaign. I commend the stakeholders for their advocacy for peaceful elections.
”473 candidates, comprising 110 (chairman and vice chairman) and 363 flag bearers sponsored by 14 political parties are contesting for the six chairmanship and 62 councillors positions in the FCT” he said.
“Sensitive materials for the election will be delivered by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Commission’s FCT Office in Garki, Abuja on Thursday, adding that party agents, observers and the media will be invited to inspect the materials before they will be moved to the Area Councils on the same day.
“With only four days to the election, most of the major activities have been carried out. We shall deploy assistive devices such as Braille ballot guides and magnifying glasses for the physically challenged voters. We had several meetings with the security agencies in the area councils, the FCT and the national level on how to address potential threats to the election and secure the election”he stated.
Speaking, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alhaji Usman Alkali-Baba represented by DSP Basil Idegwu
said the Force will deploy tactical units drawn from the Mobile Police Force, Special Forces, Counter-terrorism and Senior Officers from the Force Headquarters to provide security and monitor the election, adding that the Police will engage in convoy patrol with other security agencies to ensure the protection of INEC infrastructure in all the area councils, adding that stop and search operations will be conducted at strategic locations and vulnerable points, as well as raids on suspected criminal hideouts.
Also speaking, the FCT Minister, Alhaji Muhamad Bello affirmed that the FCT will support INEC and other stakeholders to ensure free, fair and inclusive elections for democracy to grow.
“It is our duty irrespective of party affiliation to work very hard to ensure that every registered voter is allowed to vote fairly and equitably. FCT will continue to support INEC for this election and other subsequent elections, so that one day we can beat our chests to say we participated in entrenching democracy in Nigeria”, Bello stated.