The umpire is talking tough on the forthcoming Edo and Ondo states governorship elections slated for September 19 and October 10.
No result will be declared where the poll is characterised by violence, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said.
Its Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the experience in the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections where violence was prevalent had taught the commission a lesson.
Speaking on the preparations for the polls at a virtual workshop organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Prof. Yakubu said: “Where the election is disrupted and the commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration. And this we have told the political parties pointblank; you either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says.
“If we can’t vouch for the credibility of the process, there is no point concluding it and making declaration. That we have committed to.
“The commission will not endorse fraud and what is clearly outside the minimum standard we have set for the conduct of credible elections anywhere.”
The commission reiterated its commitment to free and fair elections in the two states.
Yakubu added: “While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you should put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them,” he said.
The INEC chief said he had a meeting with the national security adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. We will protect the integrity of the process.
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki said last night that he was unsure of getting justice from the panel that screened him and five other aspirants contesting for the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket.
Speaking to reporters after spending about two hours before the panel at the APC secretariat in Abuja, Obaseki said: “The last time I came here, I asked that National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole should recuse himself from the process in the interest of peace and justice. But as a party man, I have had to go through the screening like everybody else.
“Since he is the judge and the jury in this matter, I will just wait for the outcome of the screening. I have given them all the information they need; the controversial certificate from the University of Ibadan has been tendered.
“Like I said, as a party man, I have endured through the screening process but I do not believe that I will get justice because Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is an interested party in the Edo process.
Shedding light on what transpired at the screening session, the aspirant said, “One of the questions that was asked was why did I issue a gazette that will prevent the party from performing direct elections in Edo. That did I not see it as an anti party activity? I just felt that if we put politics above the lives of the people of Edo State, that we may be missing the point”.
Obaseki arrived for the screening at about 8pm in company with Senator Domingo Obende. The governor had earlier in the day reported for the verification process but hurriedly left.
Four of the aspirants – Pastor Ize-Iyamu, Chief Chris Ogiemwonyi, Dr. Pius Odubu and Mr. Osaro Obaze – were screened between 2pm and 4pm.
The last aspirant to be screened was Mr. Mathew Iduoriyekemwen.
Chairman of the screening committee, Prof. Jonathan Ayuba, told reporters before commencement that his committee is not a judical panel of inquiry but assigned to carry out the verification of credentials submitted by the aspirants.