Uncertainty over Edo guber poll

Uncertainty over Edo guber poll
September 08 08:12 2016

There are indications that the Edo state gubernatorial election, scheduled for Saturday September 10, will not hold on that day.

This controversy was sparked on Wednesday by the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Police Force over a joint statement in which they called for the postponement over  security threat.

The two institutions called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to shift the poll over a “credible intelligence” they had which showed that some terrorists were planning to attack the state over the sallah holiday.

The Federal Government had declared Monday and Tuesday as public holiday in commemmoration of this year’s Eid-el-kabir festival.

The security agencies therefore said they needed the weekend to be free from election for them to be able to clear the state of all terrorists’ threats.

Garba Abdullahi signed the statement on behalf of the SSS, while the Force Public Relations Officer, Don Awunah, signed for the police

The election is expected to be a straight  fight between the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Godwin Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

“The Nigeria Police and Department of State Services wish to inform the general public that credible intelligence availed the agencies indicate plans by insurgent/extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and soft targets with high population during the forthcoming Sallah celebrations between 12th and 13th September, 2016. Edo State, is amongst the States being earmarked for these planned attacks by the extremist elements.

“It is in regard of these that we are appealing to INEC which has the legal duty to regulate elections in the country to consider the need for possible postponement of the date of the election in Edo State in order to enable security agencies deal decisively with the envisaged terrorist threats,” the statement said.

“While the Police/DSS remain mindful of the inconveniences this request may cause the various political stakeholders, it is our strong resolve that security agencies need not be distracted from ensuring a peaceful and secured Nigeria now and always.”

The public would recall that similar threats were issued during the May Labour Day and Democracy Day celebrations as well as the Ed-el-fitr holidays in July, 2016. However, the security agencies were able to decisively disrupt and thwart the insurgents’ plan. In the same vein, while election is important, the security agencies cannot allow the peace of the country to be disrupted, and we will continue to remain vigilant and ensure consolidation of the successes gained in the current counter-insurgency fight,” the joint statement read in  part.

The PDP has however kicked against any plan to shift the poll, saying the statement by the security agencies was a “false alarm”.

The party said “It is lamentable to hear from these same security agencies that the election cannot be held in a state where in less than 24 hours, the President and all the APC leaders and members had an uninterrupted rally”.

The PDP also recalled that INEC had conducted a bye-election in Borno senatorial district recently, wondering why election cannot hold in a state which, unlike Borno, is not known to be the hotbed of insurgency in recent years.

Full statement

Our attention has been drawn to the shocking breaking news of the advice by the DSS and the Police to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the Saturday, September 10, 2016 Gubernatorial Election in Edo State on excuse of insurgency alert.

We are taken aback on this advice coming a day after the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari was present at the Mega Rally of its Party, the APC in Benin City which was concluded without any hitch.

“It is on record that INEC recently conducted a ‘hitch free’ Senatorial By-Election in Borno State which is a high-point of insurgency in the Country but the Security Agencies saw no reason to call-off the Election. It is therefore lamentable to hear from these same security agencies that the Election cannot be held in a State where in less than 24 hours, the President and all the APC leaders and members had an uninterrupted Rally”.

“We are calling on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to caution the security agencies and direct them to provide full security, and also to desist from doing anything that will jeopardize this forthcoming Gubernatorial Election in Edo State. We are equally counting on INEC not to succumb to this false alarm by acting independently and holding election as scheduled.

“We hope that this advice from the security agencies are not in concert with the APC of having seen the indices of losing the Edo State Gubernatorial Election to the PDP”.

Finally, the Party leadership led by Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, CON, calls on our members, teeming supporters, other Edo voters and the international community to remain law-abiding while staying alert on this calculated attempt at scuttling our hard earned democracy.

The Transition Monitoring Group and other civil society groups have also kicked against the postponement, saying it will cause tension and suspicion in the polity.

INEC is however yet to respond to the advice of the security agents.

Its top officials were said to be discussing the issue at the time of filing this report.