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Call Your Supporters To Order, INEC Chairman Implores Party Leaders

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu (left), exchanges pleasantries with the National Chairman, Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Engineer Yabagi Sani, at the Commission's meeting Political Parties to review the 2023 polls, held in Abuja on Tuesday 25th July 2023. PHOTO: BASIL NWAGUGU

By Nathaniel Gana

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on leaders of Political Parties to caution their supporters against acts capable of undermining the electoral process.

Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the call at a meeting with Political Parties on the review of the 2023 General Election held in Abuja on Tuesday 25th July, against the backdrop of recent disturbing reports of clashes between supporters of opposing parties emanating from the three states where off-cycle Governorship elections will hold on 11th November this year.

Addressing party leaders, Prof. Yakubu said “as we review the general election, we also need to focus our attention on the forthcoming bye-elections and the three off-cycle Governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States. For the Commission, we are looking at some of the lessons learnt from the general election to improve our performance in the forthcoming elections.

“We are focusing, among other issues, on election technology, recruitment and training of ad hoc staff, the conduct of some of our regular and ad hoc officials, security issue, logistics in particular and our relationship with other service providers in general.”

He continued; “I also appeal to party leaders for similar introspection on the conduct of your candidates and their supporters. The use of thugs during elections to harass election officials, intimidate voters and disrupt processes, sometimes resulting in the destruction of election materials or even worse must be addressed. 

“Campaign in public by parties and candidates in the three States commenced on 14th July 2023 as provided in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Governorship elections. Sadly, there are already disturbing reports of clashes between opposing parties, with claims and counter claims of innocence or culpability. These claims help no one. Call your supporters to order”.

The INEC Chairman also touched on the use of power of incumbency in some states to restrain opposition parties from having access to public facilities for campaign purposes.

He said: “I must also acknowledge the perennial complaints from some political parties that the power of incumbency is used in some States to restrain some parties and candidates from access to public facilities for media campaigns and outdoor advertising through exorbitant fees or outright denial. 

“This often leads to the mutual destruction of advertising materials such as billboards, resulting in altercation and violence involving supporters of opposing political parties.”.

Responding on behalf of the political parties, the National Chairman, Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Engineer Yabagi Sani commended INEC for the successes recorded with the increased use of technology in the 2023 polls.

According to him, “it is our position that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deserves commendation for incremental use of technology in its operations.

“Undoubtedly, some of the outcomes in the election attest to the benefits of increased usage and efficient deployment of technology in the conduct of our elections.”

Engr. Sani also commended the Commission for steps taken to sanction its staff found wanting in the 2023 general election. He said: “The Adamawa State 2023 governorship election result declaration saga and the embarrassment caused INEC and the nation at large is a case in point. The prosecution of the Adamawa REC in court by INEC is highly desirable and commendable.”

He also implored Security agencies to check the misuse of state resources to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate in accordance with extant laws.