The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said that it is determined to conduct elections in Edo and Ondo States, however, the electoral umpire says it will pull out if there is unbearable violence recorded in the course of the polls.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, disclosed this in an interview on Sunday.
Mr Okoye said the commission is poised to conduct these elections though some political parties are engaging in activities aimed at making the commission become scared about moving on with the electoral exercises.
The tension in Edo state recently came to a very disturbing magnitude when dozens of heavily armed security operatives stormed the Assembly complex of the state, purportedly to forestall an alleged plan to attack the facility by some unnamed persons.
While nerves seemed to be getting calm from the “averted invasion” of the Assembly, news filtered in that seventeen lawmakers in the state including 14 members whose seats have been previously declared vacant, held a covert plenary and impeached the Speaker of the House, Francis Okiye, and his deputy, Roland Asoro.
This news triggered another round of palpable unrest, stirring debates and causing opposition parties to throw shades and exchange banters. The banters, however, degenerated to an unhealthy point to which there were claims of a plot to assassinate high-profile personalities in the state.
Having closely monitored the situation, INEC said the commission is not scared, noting that it is going to strategise with the security agencies and will move in to make sure that the people of Edo State and the people of Ondo State are given the choice and exercise their sovereign rights to choose whoever they want as their leaders.
INEC through its spokesman, Festus Okoye, insisted that there is a level of violence that will be tolerated, adding that if the threshold is exceeded, then the Commission would be forced to suspend the electoral proceedings.
“The violence we are talking about will be the type of violence that puts people on edge, which puts fear in the minds of the people.
“The type of violence that is cogent and verifiable, that everybody can see and be sure that the peace and security of the state are being threatened. It is not if there is violence maybe in a particular ward that the security agencies have been able to contain that we are going to call off the election.
“Type of violence I’m talking about and the type of issues that will lead us not to proceed with the election must be so serious that no regulatory agency or no regulatory commission will move into such a place to go and conduct election when it is completely unsafe to conduct the election.
“We are determined to proceed with this election but if we encounter the type of violence that is unbearable, the type of violence that will make it completely impossible to conduct anything called an election, we will pull out”.