The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged political parties participating in Kogi and Bayelsa Nov. 16 governorship election to submit lists of their polling agents on or before Nov. 2.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmmod Yakubu gave the advice on Wednesday during the commission stakeholders meeting in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State, ahead of the state governorship election.
Yakubu said that the law required political parties to submit list of polling agents two weeks before election at INEC Local Government offices.
“We have received complaints in previous election where parties said security agents turned away their agents from the polling units and collation centres.
“This is simply because you did not submit their list and we did not accredit them.’’
Yakubu, who said that the deadline remain Nov. 2, advised party agents not come to polling units with identity cards or tags of their party but the one issued by INEC.
He reiterated the commission’s commitment to remain neutral and protect its integrity by conducting credible election in the state.
Yakubu also re-emphasised that INEC would not condole any form of attacks of its personnel deployed for the election.
“We want to remind candidates and their supporters that attacks on officials of the commission will this time attract severe sanctions.
“It has happened before where we refused candidates who attacked our staff their Certificates of Return.
“In one of such cases, the court ordered that we give the candidate his certificate and as a respecter of court order, we did. But we are determined to follow the matter to the Supreme Court to ensure that the matter is decided once and for all.”
In her remarks, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, INEC National Commissioner Supervising Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers, said the commission needed the cooperation of all stakeholders, especially political parties to conduct credible election in the state.
“I must say that making the election successful, incredible and violence free is a joint venture between INEC all categories of stakeholders here present.’’
Agbamuche-Mbu said that the commission was ready to discharge its duty without fear or favour and was not ready to collaborate with any party to undermine the electoral process.
She disclosed the level of INEC preparedness for the election was at its climax.
“Logistical arrangements had been put in place to prevent any last-minute rush. The challenge of marine and road transportation has been resolved,” she said.
She disclosed that in line with Electoral Guideline, INEC on Oct. 14 issued to political parties, an electronic copy of the register voters with details of the 923,182 registered voters.
Agbamuche-Mbu reminded political parties that election was not about preparation on the eve of the poll, “but a process’’, while advising them to run issue based campaign and shun fake news.
She also urged security agencies and the media to protect the integrity of the electoral process while discharging their duties.
Mr Ide Oduasekpar, the state Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), urged stakeholders to use the opportunity offered by the meeting to ensure credible election devoid of violence and vote buying.
Oduasekpar said that peaceful election was the key to development as it enhance good governance and promote social political and the economic development of any state.
“I want to stress the fact that we need not engage in vote buying. We need not carry our bags of money around inducing voters, thereby causing violence.
“Violence will never bring any good to the state, it will rather cause destruction of lives and property.’’
Oduasekpar pledged that the agency would engage the public in knowing its roles during the election and the need to be peaceful.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was attended by stakeholders including representatives of political parties, their candidates, traditional rulers and security agencies.