The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Thursday, succumbed to pressure from Security Agencies and has announced the postponement of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo by two weeks.
The INEC national Commissioner in-charge of voter education and publicity, Prince Solomon Soyebi, made the disclosure at a press conference at the commission’s office in Benin on Thursday. According to Soyebi, the elections earlier scheduled to hold tomorrow will now hold on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.
The postponement has been deemed necessary owing to threats of terrorist activities in Edo and other states of the federation during the election and over the Sallah period, the Commission has sighted.
“Consequently, the commission notes the request of the security agencies and, considering the security implications of proceeding with the election, the safety of eligible voters, electoral officials, including ad hoc staff and other stakeholders, has decided to reschedule the governorship election to Wednesday, 28 September, 2016.
“The commission enjoins all eligible voters in Edo State, political parties, candidates and other stakeholders to be peaceful and law abiding.”
Prior to the announcement made yesterday, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Police had on Tuesday advised INEC to shift the election to a future date, owing to security concerns.
“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,” the security agencies said in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Don Awunah, and Mr. Garba Abdullahi of the DSS.
But the electoral commission rejected the postponement, insisting it would not be cowed in the discharge of its electoral duties.
The electoral body had earlier yesterday told off the security agencies that had requested the postponement of the election, saying the commission would not be ordered about in the discharge of its electoral responsibilities, adding that the body was not aware of any security threat to the election. Yesterday morning, Soyebi said the cost of postponement of an election that had attained over 97 per cent preparation would be high.
Eventually, INEC succumbed under pressure last night after engaging the security agencies in long hours of meetings, where it was told in definite terms that the security of the exercise that was less than 48 hours away could not be guaranteed.
The governor of Edo State, Governor Adams Oshiomhole has kicked against the postponement, owing to the fact that the new date might clash with the planned coronation of Oba of Benin fixed for September 26.
Speaking on a television programme, Oshiomhole said, “We have a big event in Edo on September 26 which is the oba’s coronation. Before that day, there are other events that must be done. It will not be proper to hold election during that period,” he said, asking: “Why not postpone the election for one week?”
However, the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was quick to tag the postponement by INEC as illegal. The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said the reason adduced for the postponement was not clear and cogent as required by law.
“Nigerians were not deceived by the obvious concoctions of the security agencies whose performances during elections have been less than average since the advent of the Buhari Administration.
“The postponement of the election by INEC is illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the people’s trust in the commission and the security agencies. It is a coup against the people of Edo State in particular and Nigerians in general.
“Since APC assumed power, virtually all elections conducted by INEC have either been inconclusive or truncated.”