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INEC absolves self from electoral violence, flaws in Kogi elections

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Friday Idachaba

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it lived up to its constitutional mandate in the conduct of the November Governorship and Supplementary Elections in Kogi against widespread disaffections.

Alhaji Ahmed-Bagudu Biambo, the Director, Voter Education and Publicity (VEP) in Kogi office of the commission, disclosed this at a Post-Election Dialogue on Kogi State Governorship Election on Thursday in Lokoja.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the dialogue was organised by an International Non-Governmenal Organisation, Search For Common Ground (SEARCH), for electoral stakeholders to address unresolved issues arising from the elections.

Biambo who absolved INEC of any wrongdoing, said the commission had properly organised, supervised and conducted the elections including the supplementary elections in line with its constitutional mandate.

The commission, he said, provided all the electoral materials, the logistics and ensured that they were deployed on time to the various polling units, and that accreditation and voting commenced at the right time.

He said for the violence, thuggery and other malpractices that erupted in the later part of the exercise, what went wrong and why, INEC could not be held responsible as it would not have answers to the questions.

Abdullahi Mohammed, the state Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), said there was a missing link in the nation’s electoral system and that possibly explained the widespread violence during the election.

He said that the Agency was conducting an independent review of the election to identify what transpired, adding that though there were issues, he believed the issues were surmountable.

Kabir Gwarzo, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), who represented Mr Hakeem Busari, the Commissioner of Police in the state, said the Nov. 16 election presented an opportunity for the police to learn some lessons.

He said the force was looking forward to a time when the electoral system would have so improved to the extent that elections would be conducted without the involvement of security agencies.

Mrs Gift Omoniwa, Kogi state Coordinator of Search for Common Ground, said the dialogue was incident-based and not issue based.

Owonipa said the Organisation was committed to promoting Electoral Democracy and Peaceful Elections with the aim of strengthening community-based conflict early warning systems and conflict prevention.

NAN reports that the programme attended by stakeholders including security agencies, CSOs and the Media, among others, is being implemented by Search in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) with funding from USAID and UKAID.

Credit: NAN

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