ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – A socio-political pressure group, The Legal Clinic has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to maintain high degree of neutrality in the forthcoming Bayelsa supplementary governorship election to be conducted in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
The general counsel of the group, Mr. Tunde Bamigboye, made this call on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja. He said that the commission not only decides the degree of electoral malpractice but can impair the outcome of an election as well as voters’ rights.
Bamigboye said that if the standard of INEC’s decision varies from one polling booth to another and from one collation centre to another, what it purports as free and fair election would be nothing but a travesty of democracy.
He stated: “INEC must uphold neutrality because it’s officials exercise wide discretionary powers on the elective fate of voters, political parties and candidates.
“INEC decides the degree of electoral malpractice or deficiency that can vitiate the outcome or process of an election as well as voters’ fundamental right to franchise.
“If the standard of its decisions vary from polling booth to polling booth and from collation centre to collation centre to collection centre as we have seen conclusively.”
“Then what it purports to be a free and fair election would be nothing but a travesty of democracy, “he noted.
While faulting the present leadership of INEC, Bamigboye said INEC under the stewardship of Prof. Attahiru Jega “understood the regularity of standards in the decision making processes and the outcome they engender to bolster the neutrality of INEC in his time”.
According to him, INEC then, in the face of highly inflammatory allegations remained at the rostrum of probity and avoided the temptation of joining issues with parties.
He further called on the electoral body to deploy neutral officials to conduct the supplementary elections slated for January 9, 2016, adding that an observer board with representatives of all political parties and credible civil society organisations be formed.