By Tunde Oguntola |
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has condemned the recurrent acrimonious attacks on its staff, innocent Nigerians, and properties that have characterized political party congresses across the country recently.
The electoral body also said three members of its staff lost their lives while five others sustained injuries on their way to Maiduguri for a special training ahead of the conversion of voting points into polling units.
The deceased staff, who were indigenes of Adamawa State, according to INEC, are Adamu Mohammed (EO, Biu LGA), Abubakar Hamma Joda and Suleiman Umar (AEOs, Damboa LGA).
Meanwhile, a statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Abuja yesterday, signed by the national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the level of violence in some of the congresses is making it extremely difficult for the commission to exercise its statutory oversight responsibility.
Okoye said in one such congresses in Kaduna recently, violence broke out leading to the destruction of the commission’s ballot boxes.
He said the commission will not stand and watch party conventions and congresses degenerate into farcical rituals and violent fiascos that threaten lives and destroy property.
He said for the avoidance of doubt, INEC will henceforth reconsider its involvement in these events should they continue to put the lives of members of the public and staff of the Commission at risk.
“Henceforth, there will be far-reaching consequences in any situation where party congresses and conventions degenerate into violence and destruction of INEC property.
“Apart from replacing such destroyed materials, parties may be blacklisted from the receipt of INEC materials for their activities in the future. The Commission may also withdraw its staff from monitoring such violent political party meetings, with the resultant non-recognition of their outcomes,” he said.
Okoye further said political parties must hold themselves to the same standards they hold the commission during elections.