Edo 2020: PDP Protests, Demands Free, Fair Election

The National Leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday, led all members of NWC of the party to INEC, demanding that the commission must remain neutral in tomorrow’s election.

Speaking with journalists after their protest to INEC headquarters in Abuja, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said: “We are deeply worried and in pain because of our past experience especially those of Kogi and Bayelsa states.

“We are worried because the country is in crises: crisis in economy, crisis in the area of security, virtually in all facets of the life of the nation; and the only way out of all these crises is to conduct free and fair elections, which will at most reduce the tension in our country today.

“Let me also use this opportunity to call on all the security agencies, especially the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Director-General of DSS. We have been reliably informed that over 1,500 men and the special squad are on their way to Edo State to carry out their lawful duties. We agree, but the past elections have shown that some of the officers in plain clothes are used by APC to replace results; it has happened.

“I believe that the situation in the country demands from all of us some level of responsibilities, to be law-abiding. Let them conduct free and fair elections, according to the rules, the electoral law. The securities are there to prevent violence, to help INEC.”

According to PDP national chairman, “In an election in a state like Imo where somebody that came fourth according to the results announced by INEC, but the man who took fourth was declared the winner by the court; that is not what the country needs today.

“We pride ourselves as the most populated Black country in the world in our continent, but if we cannot conduct a credible free and fair election, what will be our position? As you are aware, Ghana is setting the pace whereas Nigeria is supposed to be setting the pace for the rest of Africa to follow but today we are behind Ghana, it is a shame.”

He said what took place at INEC office was a “peaceful protest to remind INEC to also speak to other security agencies not to damage the image of INEC, strictly that they should follow the rules. We believe that our message will be delivered to the chairman and we have confidence that INEC will not fail again.”

He said INEC in its response pledged to conduct a free and fair election.

“They made promises before; even the security agencies made a promise before and they failed.

“What legacy are we going to leave behind for the next generation of Nigerians? We want to appeal to you to use your good offices to make sure that the final order and meetings with security agencies lead to the conduct of free and fair elections. That’s all we demanding – free and fair election, transparent election, credible election – so that our country can move forward,” he said.

INEC Expresses Readiness for Edo Poll, Assures of Fairness

Receiving PDP team in Abuja, INEC National Commissioner in Charge of Election and Party Monitoring, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, told party: “The commission is aware of your fears and we will do our best to deliver on a free, fair, credible, and safe election. The commission has just returned from a visit to Edo State; the chairman and members of the commission went to Edo State to check on the processes for the election, last-minute processes.

“By the time we departed, we were very sure that virtually everything is on course.

What remains is the distribution of sensitive materials and that is to take place today. Just before you arrived, the process has been concluded and all the local government has proceeded, in fact, we started with the farthest local government, they have received their materials.

“All the vehicles are being tracked to ensure and to be able to say where they are, at any point in time. So, the processes are on, if there is any local government outstanding, they are the ones within the city of Benin and that process in on.

“The commission has always given you assurances like you said. What we shall continue to do is to assure you that on our part, as the election management body, we will continue to give you our best. I want to tell you that on Saturday, we may not all be in Benin, but we are going to operate a virtual situation room where we will be seeing all that is going on in all locations and we will be dealing with problems as they arise.

“For the second time, election observers, civil society organisations, the media will be allowed access into this virtual situation room. They will be given codes with which they can join and they can ask questions; we can respond to issues as they see them. I think that is already a very high level of openness of the process. So, we have done our best.

“You raised an issue regarding result sheets. I’d like to say that at the stakeholders’ meeting that was held in Benin, your party made a request that the result sheet, the registration area which is the ward collation sheet, the local government collation sheets should be signed by REC. The commission has directed that REC does that and that was done in the presence of parties, civil society organisations, and the media.

“So, once again, I just want to assure you that it is in our own interest, it is for our own good that a free fair, credible election goes on, on Saturday and that is what we promised that we are going to deliver.”

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