Despite the clamour by some political parties and stakeholders for the postponement of the Ondo governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police, yesterday ruled out any shift in the November 26 date.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who met with stakeholders in Akure, the state capital said the dispute over the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not warrant evoking Section 26 of the Electoral Act to postpone the election.
The INEC boss said the commission was aware of partisan insinuation of bias in the nomination of candidates by one of the party, but said it is the people of the state, who will determine their next governor.
His words: “We are aware that party primaries for the selection of flag bearers by some of our political parties tend to be rancorous. For this reason, while each activity under our election timetable is tied to a specific day, the conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from the nomination of candidates, was allocated a whole month from 18 August to September 19.
“However, where an intra-party dispute becomes the subject of litigation resulting in specific orders of court, INEC shall obey such orders until they are set aside by a superior court.
We remain guided by this principle. Our responsibility is to ensure that, as a legal process, elections are conducted strictly in conformity with the provisions of the law.
We have taken every step within the powers of the commission to ensure that the election this weekend is held as scheduled and that it is free, fair and credible.
“We have also been assured by the security agencies that they are equally prepared to ensure that there is a conducive atmosphere to support the elaborate plans we have put in place for the success of the election.
On this note, I wish to reiterate that INEC has no plan to postpone the election this weekend. We are fully prepared. We see no reason to activate the provisions of Section 26 or Section 36 of the Electoral Act and there is no other ground in law to postpone an election.”
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, who also spoke at the forum, said the command is deploying additional 26,000 police officers for the election. He said each polling unit would be manned by five police officers apart from other officers from other security agencies.
He announced restriction of movement from midnight of November 25, while security officers attached to political officer holders would be withdrawn on election day.
His words: “We will dominate areas, especially the waterways together with the Navy. We are going to support the deployment along the major ways with 20 gun boats.
We are going to ensure we have security along the waterways. We are going to use dogs and horses to protect INEC headquarters. “We are going to reinforce the police officers with three helicopters to cover each senatorial district. We are bringing 300 vehicles to assist us in patrolling the state.
We are bringing 12 additional Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC). We are also deploying 12 Armoured hiluxes for the election. “Purely for this election, we are going to deploy a commissioner of police for each senatorial district and the whole operation is going to be coordinated by Deputy Inspector General Police in charge of Operation.
Each of the police officer for the election will carry a tag. So, if we see you outside with police or military uniform in an area that you are not supposed to be even as a serving police officer or a serving military personnel, you are going to be arrested and be dealt with.”