Abuja – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended further action on the conduct of re-run elections for some legislative seats till there is guarantee for peace.
The commission stated the position in Abuja on Saturday in two separate statements.
The commission said it had suspended the election in Minjibir State Constituency of Kano State till further notice.
The decision is contained in a statement issued by Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, the INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, in Abuja.
It said the decision followed the spate of violence, threats and general insecurity, including assault and intimidation of its staff and voters as well as snatching of Card Readers and other election materials.
It stated that the situation compelled it to suspend the election in the state “forthwith and withdraw all its personnel from the field’’.
The statement said INEC took the decision pursuant to its powers under Section 26 of the Electoral Amendment Act, 2015, and after consultation with the security agencies.
“Consequently, voters are advised to return to their abodes and continue their lawful activities while security agencies have promptly reacted to safeguard citizens and forestall a complete breakdown of law and order in the area.
“A new date for the election will be announced in due course when the Commission is satisfied that it is safe for it to return to the constituency and when conditions are conducive for the conduct of the election.’’
In another statement, INEC said it would only proceed with the conclusion of outstanding re-run elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states on the assurance of violence-free atmosphere in the states.
A statement signed by Mrs Agusta Ogakwu, the Secretary to INEC, said the commission needed a “firm and unequivocal’’ commitment to violence-free polls by political parties and relevant stakeholders.
It said “INEC needs assurance by the security agencies that it is safe to return through the guarantee of peace, order and safety of all election officials, voters, other stakeholders, materials, polling units and facilities to be used for the elections by the security agencies.’’
The statement said that the decision followed disruptions of court ordered re-run elections arising out of petitions challenging the conduct of elections in 2015 into various legislative seats in the states.
It stated that INEC had met to consider the options open to it to resolve the impasse in the state.
It stated that the inability of INEC to conclude the elections arose out of violent resistance to the commencement of the polls in Imo North Senatorial district and three state constituencies in the state.
“There was the disruption of polls after commencement (as In Kogi East Senatorial and Idah State Constituency), and all Senatorial and some House at Representatives and State House of Assembly elections in Rivers State.
“The violence which attended the elections resulted in the death of a poll official.
“It also resulted in maiming and various other degrees of injuries, intimidation and psychological trauma to innocent citizens, voters and its personnel as well as political party agent/supporters and protagonists alike. ‘’
It stated while INEC was committed to conclude the elections, it resolved not to unnecessarily expose its staff or stakeholders to danger and to avoid any action that would likely lead to a threat of, or breakdown of law and order.
“Consequently and in the public interest, the commission has resolved to engage the political parties in its capacity as their regulator as well as the principal manager of the electoral process.
“INEC has also resolved to engage the security agencies as custodians who are statutorily responsible for the maintenance of law and order.’’
It added that INEC would enlist the intervention of relevant governmental agencies as well as Civil Society Organizations, religious bodies and traditional institutions, among others.
The efforts are aimed at securing a conducive atmosphere for the peaceful conduct of the elections, the statement added. (NAN)