At last, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Thursday and other stakeholders,agreed on dates for the completion of the rerun in four states of the federation.
According to the chairman of the commission, Professor Mamood Yakubu, at a national consultative forum with relevant stakeholders, the rerun in Imo and Kogi states have been scheduled for July 23 while those of Rivers and Kano states, would hold on July 30, respectively.
“However, the meeting advised the commission to further engage the stakeholders and where necessary, after due consultations, review the dates with respect to all or any of the states”.
The INEC boss stated that if the need arises to “adjust the dates due to any circumstances, we shall do so. So, nothing is cast in iron,” he said.
The INEC chairman had earlier said in his opening remark: “For us in INEC, stakeholders engagement is central to our commitment to credible and transparent elections.You would recall that following the 2015 general election, 80 constituency elections were nullified by tribunals out of 627 election petitions filed nationwide. Majority of the elections have since been conducted by INEC”.
He lamented that inconclusive elections were due to the perpetration of violence in the affected states, stating that although, INEC is determined to conclude all the elections .
According to the INEC helmsman, elections anywhere in the world are not automated processes as they are conducted by human beings, stating that disruptions in one polling unit can change the tide in the results, hence, the commission would not improperly conclude elections.
He, however, lamented the violence unleashed on some INEC staff and materials in the areas where the reruns were earlier suspended.
“In Kogi State ,it was as a result of large scale disruption and physical assault of staff. In Kano State, it was suspended due to violence and intimidation of staff on duty. In Rivers State, which account for about 50 pe r cent of the 80 nullified elections, many of our staff were assaulted. One of them, Samuel Okonta, was killed. There was widespread violence”, he said.
The Inspector General of Police, who was represented on the occasion by a Commissioner of Police, Habila Joshua, expressed the readiness of the police to mobilise men for the reruns.
Other stakeholders such as the National Orientation Agency(NOA), the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) , political parties and their candidates, all expressed readiness to play critical roles but called on INEC to ensure adequate provision of security at the election venues.
However, Senator Magnus Abe, who is one of the candidates in the Rivers State senatorial rerun, said that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) ,in the state should be sacked, having compromised his impartiality.