…Cites security concerns, PDP rejects postponement.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally bowed to the combined pressure of the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services (DSS), and postponed the earlier scheduled September 10, 2016 governorship election in Edo State to Wednesday September 28, citing security concerns.
In a press statement made available to journalists Benin City, the state capital, the national commissioner, Voter Education and Publicity, Soyebi Solomon, said the decision to postpone the election was reached at a security meeting held with security agencies yesterday evening.
He noted that the Commission had successfully implemented 12 out of 14 conditions set for a successful election but that it had received official communication from the police and DSS on the need to postpone the election.
He said, “However, at about 6pm today (yesterday), the Commission received official communication from the police and DSS drawing its attention to the need to postpone the Edo governorship elections. Such postponement, the communication indicates, is necessary in view of threats of terrorists’ activities in Edo State and other states of the federation during the election and over the Sallah period.
“The deployment of security personnel country-wide to secure lives and property would over-stretch their capacity to, at the same time, provide adequate security for the election.”
The electoral umpire added that acting on the request of the security agencies, and considering the security implications of proceeding with the election to the safety of eligible voters, electoral officials, including ad-hoc staff and other stakeholders, the Commission had decided to reschedule the Edo governorship elections to Wednesday 28th September, 2016.
It enjoined all eligible voters in Edo State, political parties, candidates and other stakeholders to be peaceful and law abiding.
Edo Guber: Postponement Is Illegal, Coup Against Electorate – PDP
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the postponement of the Edo State governorship election from this Saturday as illegal, shameful and a ploy by the security agencies to buy time for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP termed it a major constitutional breach and a coup against the electorate for the security agencies to act in concert with the APC to truncate an election.
The opposition party frowned at the reversal of INEC’s earlier position to go ahead with the polls, saying it should have stuck to its earlier position that the Saturday September 10, 2016 election date would remain sacrosanct since there was no cogent reason to tamper with the election date.
The statement by the PDP national publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, reads in part: “The call for the postponement of the election by the top hierarchy of the security agencies, predicated on alleged security threat, was a less than ingenious attempt to buy time for the APC which is clearly heading for a major electoral catastrophe on Saturday.
“It is shameful and, indeed, a major constitutional breach for the security agencies to act in concert with the APC to truncate an election that had been planned for months.
“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. Indeed they have become instruments in the hands of the ruling party to harass, intimidate and punish opponents.”
He called for an investigation of the security agencies to rid them of political manipulation.
“The time may be ripe now for President Buhari and the National Assembly to conduct a non-partisan holistic review and investigation of the national security apparatus to save our fledgling democracy.
“The postponement of the election by INEC is illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the peoples’ trust in the Commission and the security agencies. It is a coup against the people of Edo State in particular and Nigerians in general.”
The opposition party accused the electoral umpire of serial failure.
“Since APC assumed power,” it stated, “virtually all elections conducted by INEC have either been inconclusive or truncated. Saturday’s election in Edo State must be an exception. We will not accept anything less than free, fair and transparent election conducted and concluded the same day. INEC must rise to the occasion to restore the confidence of Nigerians in its operations. Edo is a test case. With the way INEC is performing, how are we sure that it would be able to handle the 2019 national elections. Our democracy is under a serious threat from the APC and its ‘Gestapo’ security agencies.
The Markafi-led PDP called on the media, civil society organisations, political parties, Nigerians and the international community “to rise to defend the country’s hard earned democracy from the assault being unleashed on it by the APC government.”