Friday, October 23, 2020

Candidates sign peace accord as INEC meets stakeholders over Lagos by-elections

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State on Thursday met with various leaders of political parties, candidates and other stakeholders to ensure successful Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe Constituency II by-elections on Oct. 31.

The event, which was an expanded stakeholders’ meeting for both election, witnessed the signing of peace accord by candidates.

INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Sam Olumekun, said that the commission was ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections without compromising standards.

Olumekun commended stakeholders and media’s contributions to the success of the 2019 General Elections, saying without their support the success of the elections would not have been possible.

He said that the by-election became necessary as a result of the demise of the Senator representing Lagos East District and the member representing Kosofe State Constituency II, Lagos State House of Assembly.

Olumekun said that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) and the Electoral Act provided the process of election for the circumstance of a general election and when vacancies occur into elective positions.

“The Commission is committed to conducting a free and fair election in accordance with our vision and mission.

“Hence we plead for your total support to fight such malpractice as violence, vote-buying, ballot snatching and the likes in the forthcoming by-elections.

“You will have observed that our performance has progressively been on the upswing and we cannot afford to drop the ball.

“We are open to other ideas that will assist in conducting elections in which votes count.

“Finally, let me assure you that we will resist any form of temptation and our actions will be guided by extant laws and good conscience.”

According to him, since his assumption of office in August 2017, stakeholders have done marvellously well in the area of sensitisation and mobilisation of the citizens for all INEC activities, and more should be done for the forthcoming polls.

He said that the meeting had become necessary to review preparations for the forthcoming by-elections fixed for Oct. 31.

“You will observe that the off season elections conducted after the 2019 general elections have enabled us to fine-tune many of our activities.

“The Commission has improved on the development of personnel for elections.

“It has also addressed some of the intractable challenges to the functionality of new technological innovations for elections and is able to collate, transmit and declare results of elections more accurately and speedily, resulting in better outcome.

“The latest technology, Z-pad, introduced and used in recent elections, which is designed to transfer results directly from the polling units is another good innovation.

“The picture of the result would be taken by the Presiding Officers with the Z-pad from all units, and later transferred to the portal designed for monitoring of the results,” Olumekun said.

According to him, the technology has worked perfectly well in Edo and Ondo governorship elections and it has further enhanced the integrity of the Commission.

The INEC boss said that the commission had issued regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections under the COVID-19 pandemic period which should be strictly observed by all.

“The by-election will be conducted in strict compliance with COVlD-19 protocols. We will be professional in the conduct of this by-election.

“It should also be understood that elections must not be an avenue to spread Coronavirus in the State. Please inform other stakeholders that ‘No face mask, No voting’,” he said.

Speaking, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, who described peace as golden, urged political parties and their supporters to steer clear of violence during the polls.

Odumosu, who was represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP Mohammed Ali, said: “Anything short of peaceful atmosphere is not going to be tolerated in this election.

“We will do our best to ensure that voters cast their votes peacefully.

“We don’t belong to any political party. We, on our own part, are ever ready to give you all the needed security support.

“We must cherish peace, appreciate peace and let peace reign.

“We will provide security for both electoral materials and staff.

“We will ensure seamless process devoid of any rancour.

“Police cannot let you down. This election must be peaceful and credible.”

According to him, there will be restriction of movement in the affected local government areas that make up the Lagos East Senatorial District which are, Somolu, Kosofe, Ikorodu, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki.

Also speaking, Mr Waheed Ishola, the Lagos State Coordinator, National Orientation Agency (NOA), who advised political parties to mobilise voters massively for the election, decried low voter turnout during elections.

Ishola, who noted that NOA would do its part in voters’ mobilisation, urged political parties to ensure issue-based campaigns and avoid vote buying .

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event had in attendance various leaders of political parties and candidates, civil society organisations, traditional rulers and members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).

Candidates of political parties for both Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe Constituency II, House of Assembly by-elections took turns to sign the peace accord administered by INEC.

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