By Awharitoma Abavo, Benin

INEC logo

INEC logo

Ahead of tomorrow,Wednesday, 28 September, 2016 governorship election in Edo State, the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told leaders of the various political parties participating in the exercise not to be scared of defeat and hence, stop the blame game.

 

This is as the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun threatened to resign if his critics could provide sufficient evidence that he has been compromised.

 
He challenged those accusing the Commission of  compromise to show proof to substantiate their claims.

 
The INEC boss made the assertion during a stakeholders meeting held at the National
Orientation Agency in Benin City, the Edo state Capital, saying the Commission has since given out its voters’ register to the the political parties.

 

 

“Do check if there are militants among them. Leave INEC alone. If anybody has evidence that I have compromised, I will resign. We are preparing for an election it is not as if we are preparing to go to war. ”

 
Olumekun’s declaration was apparently in response to the allegations made by the state
chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Barr. Anselm Ojezua who had appealed to security agencies in the state not to treat the alleged infiltration of militants from neighbouring states with levity.

 
The APC chairman, admitting that the speeches by the security chiefs in the state in connection with the poll was re-assuring, added however, “as I speak to you now, people  are coming into the state. Criminality can’t outweigh political activities.

 
“As I speak to you now, militants are being deployed into our state. I do not know if the security agencies are aware”, he said.

 

The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Haliru Gwandu, described the comment by the APC chairman, as inciting but assured that police would be fair to all the parties.

 
“The Police boss who assumed duty at the State Police Headquaters on Wednesday, last week
said: “to my greatest dismay, some leaders of political parties are making inciting statement.”

 
Also speaking, the Assistant Inspector-General of police in charge of Zone 5, Benin, AIG,
Isaac Eke, admitted that security agencies in the state were aware of rumours of militants infiltrating the state, but nobody has come up with credible evidence to confirm the claim.

 
“The rumours that people are coming from neighbouring states is from two political parties. Whoever that has credible information give it to us and we will act.

 
“We will not act on flimsy excuses. Give us the information, we will profile the person…Both parties, you cannot say you do not have people that want to be violent.

 
“The security agencies have been informed and there will be no sacred cow. It’s not going to be business as usual.”

 
On his part, Nigeria Bar Association, Benin branch chairman,  Barr. Ede Asenoguan, said “It is not enough for us to say that militants have entered the state without proof. The mere facts that people are checking into hotels do not mean that there is security threat.”

 
According to him, “some of our members coming to monitor the election have checked
into hotels. The reason why they are coming is for our own good.

 
“If there are names of people who are not voters in the state, we challenge INEC  and those making the allegations should come out with proof”, he said.

 
Similarly, Barr. Chris Agbonwanegbe, PDP Chieftain in the state, said five leaders of his party are languishing in Oko prisons in Benin for publicly declaring their supports for the PDP.
Agbonwanegbe appealed to Police to put an end to arrest and intimidation of their
members and supporters.

 
In his remark, the running mate to the PDP governorship Candidate, John Yakubu, expressed reservation about the preparedness of the electoral umpire.

 
“As we go to the poll, our people are doubtful whether the Commission will give us
free, fair and credible election. Edo state election will be a reference point in future elections in
Nigeria”, he stated