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Only Credible Option For INEC Is To Shift Anambra Gov Poll, CSOs Insist

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By Frederick Peters, KADUNA

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA– Key civil society organisations in the Southeast region have insisted that the only credible option left for INEC, in next Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra state, is a postponement, due to realities on ground adding that the credibility of the process would be in doubt, if it goes ahead with the poll.

The Nation reports that the CSOs on Friday urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do the needful to help douse tensions and fears inflicted on the general population especially the voters, thus allowing security agencies, political parties, their candidates and agents to re-strategize including reducing fears and deploying peace and dispute resolution mechanisms and demilitarization of the electoral space.

This is coming shortly after INEC had assured Nigerians of its readiness and preparedness to go ahead with the Anambra Governorship Election on 6th Nov 2021.

But in a statement issued on Friday, the CSOs said the INEC’s assurances to go ahead with the Anambra governorship election on 6th November were totally contrary to the present realities on the ground.

The CSOs include the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety); the Southeast Zone of the Civil Liberties Organization (Southeast CLO) and the Southeast Based Coalition of Democracy and Human Rights Organization (SBCHROs) with Emeka Umeagbalasi, Comrade Aloysius Attah and Prof Jerry Chukwuokoro respectively signing the statement on their behalf.

The statement further said INEC’s assurances “can only be smiled at by state actor and non-state actor poll riggers. That is to say therefore that the commission’s assurances are dead on arrival and repugnant to conditions for free and fair elections, particularly the referenced Anambra governorship election.

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“If the commission is truly ready to conduct all-inclusive and credible governorship election in Anambra State, it ought to be deeply worried and concerned and should not have given such ‘assurances of the graveyard’”.

The CSOs further after a careful assessment of situations and the clarifications given by the secessionist group on the seven-day sit-at-home and found the same not to hold water.

“It is therefore correct to say that by all intents and purposes, the suddenly declared sit-at-home and its timing are targeted at scuttling the Anambra governorship poll and provide grounds for the poll to be massively and scientifically rigged by the establishment …”, the statement read.

The statement maintained that INEC had no other credible option than to shift the Anambra governorship election for one month.

It continued: “This is if the agitators (IPOB) insist on going ahead with their five days electoral disruptive sit-at-home threats.

“Apart from proving the agitators right or wrong by shifting the date of the poll and if they target and impose another sit-at-home to disrupt the poll, this will also enable the tensions and fears created and inflicted on the general population especially the voters to drastically reduce and provide the commission and other stakeholders including security agencies, political parties, their candidates and agents to re-strategize including reducing fears and deploying peace and dispute resolution mechanisms and demilitarization of the electoral space”.

It insisted that shifting the election would have no negative effect on the Constitution and Electoral Act.

According to the statement, Section 178 (2) of the country’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 25 (8) of the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended), “election into the office of governor shall be held not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder or outgoing governor”.

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It said, “In the case of Anambra governorship poll, therefore, the tenure of office of the outgoing governor of the state elapses on 17th March 2022. This means that INEC is on point by fixing the poll “not earlier than 150 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last or outgoing holder (William Mmaduabuchukwu Obiano).

“INEC is also on point if the poll is shifted to 6th Dec 2021 which is still within the literal letters or meaning of ‘not earlier than 150 days’ or ‘not later than 30 days to the last holder’s office term expiration’.

“Except INEC is determined to rig the poll otherwise the only credible option available to the commission is to shift the poll for one month; exception being unless the agitators rescind their sit-at-home call scheduled to start from 5th Nov. The meaningful timeline popularly appropriate for agitators to rescind or rewind is Monday, 1st Nov or Tuesday, Nov 2nd 2021”.the statement added

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