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INEC: We won’t declare any winner in Edo, Ondo gov polls if disrupted

The INEC chairman said the commission decided to adopt the new measure following its experience in Kogi and Bayelsa where the election turned violent, putting the credibility of the process in doubt.

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has said the electoral umpire will not declare any winner in the upcoming elections in Edo and Ondo if they are disrupted.

Yakubu, who spoke specifically about the Edo and Ondo governorship polls, said the commission will not endorse any exercise below its minimum standard.

He said this on Tuesday at a virtual workshop organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).

The INEC chairman said the commission decided to adopt the new measure following its experience in Kogi and Bayelsa where the election turned violent, putting the credibility of the process in doubt.

“While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them,” he said.

“Yesterday, I had a meeting with the national security adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. But what pro-active measure is the commission going to take to ensure that if there is a replay of what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi, we will protect the integrity of the process.

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“Where the election is disrupted and the commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration. And this we have told the political parties pointblank; you either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says.

“If we can’t vouch for the credibility of the process, there is no point concluding it and making declaration. That we have committed to. The commission will not endorse fraud and what is clearly outside the minimum standard we have set for the conduct of credible elections anywhere.”

Idayat Hassan, CDD director, said the COVID-19 pandemic “could be the decider of the election” especially for the advantage of the political parties, and she asked INEC to ensure full implementation of its policies.

“These elections will be determined by things: INEC itself, the handling of logistics and the full implementation of its beautiful plan,” she said.

“And two, the citizens. Will they adhere to these principles and what are we doing? This is one role for the international community; they have to support INEC more in terms of crisis management communication, procurement and combating disinformation which will be a serious determinant of these elections.”

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