By Idowu Abdullahi,
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties against violence before, during, and after forthcoming gubernatorial primaries in Edo and Ondo states respectively, saying parties must institute a mechanism to ensure a free and fair exercise.
It explained that the call had become imperative following the commission’s observation from previous elections that the process during the primaries is what is always obtainable during the election proper, adding that a rancor-free governorship primary will guarantee violence-free governorship election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said after the commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections and the accompanied meetings with RECs, which signify its preparedness for the exercise, it is pertinent to ensure the activities leading to the elections are in accordance with what is obtainable in every democracy globally.
Yakubu, during a virtual meeting with political party leaders, to brief them on the commission’s preparation, also urged political parties wishing to adopt the Direct Primary for the election of candidates for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections to submit their membership register to the Commission before the time elapsed.
While reminding the parties that it about 110 days to the Edo Governorship election scheduled for 19th September 2020 and 131 days to the Ondo Governorship election holding on 10th October 2020, maintained that political parties opting for Indirect primary should forward the list of their delegates to the commission for effective monitoring of the process by the electoral umpire.
“Based on experience, it is also important to draw your attention to the necessity for rancor-free primaries. Party primaries form the foundation for the secondary election conducted by the Commission. You must, therefore, avoid acts of thuggery, brigandage, vote-buying and other sundry violations of the Electoral Act.
“As we monitor the conduct of party primaries, we will pay particular attention to your compliance with the law and consider sanctions so that the unruly behavior of some party supporters is not carried forward to the main election.
“I wish to appeal to political parties that opt for direct primaries to avail us with the register of members to be used for the election from Ward to Local Government and State levels for the effective discharge of our monitoring responsibilities under the law.
“Those that opt for indirect primaries should similarly make available to the Commission the list of delegates for the election. Doing otherwise will amount to going into an election without the voters’ register. The Commission makes available to each political party the complete register of voters before every major election. We expect political parties to reciprocate for their primaries.” he said.