BAYELSA APPEALS FOR POSTPONEMENT OF GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS

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REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU, ON THE OCCASION OF A COURTESY CALL BY BAYELSA STATE STAKEHOLDERS, CONFERENCE ROOM, INEC HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA, TUESDAY 14THMAY 2019

Your Excellency the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State
Honourable Members of the State Assembly
Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Bayelsa State
Your Royal Majesty
Chairman of the Bayelsa State Elders’ Forum
Religious leaders
Other stakeholders
Honourable National Commissioners of INEC
The INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I welcome you all to this meeting on the request of the Bayelsa State Stakeholders led by the Deputy Governor of the State. We maintain an open door policy and all stakeholders are free to request for audience with the Commission on any matter they consider important for the improvement of our electoral process.

2. A few weeks ago on9thApril 2019, we released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections. The Commission fixed Saturday 2ndNovember 2019 for the elections in the two States. Shortly after the release of the timetable, we received a letter from Bayelsa State Government drawing the Commission’s attention that the 2ndof November each year has been designated as Thanksgiving Day in Bayelsa State and declared work-free by an Act of the State Assembly. The State Government has appealed to the Commission to reconsider the date for this reason. The Speaker of the State Assembly, religious leaders and other stakeholders made a similar appeal to the Commission. Today, all the stakeholders are here to further reiterate their appeal. We have listened to you. At the next meeting of the Commission, your appeal will be examined and the Commission’s decision will be announced by Friday this week.

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3. May I seize this opportunity to appeal to all stakeholders in Bayelsa and Kogi States to ensure that the forthcoming Governorship elections are devoid of hate speech, intimidation of voters and INEC officials, vote buying, violence including bombing and arson that led to the destruction of election materials and INEC facilities in the last Governorship elections in the two States and other sundry violations of the law. I urge you to appeal to your supporters to ensure that the creeks and waterways, the hills and forests, urban and rural areas, the polling units and collation centres are free of thugs who unleash mayhem that turn a simple democratic process into needless bloodletting.

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4. I want to assure you that for our part, the Commission is committed to a free, fair and credible process. We will deploy early, adhere to our guidelines and regulations and ensure a transparent and prompt collation and declaration of results. Arising from the arrests made by the security agencies in the 2019 general elections, the Commission will soon commence the prosecution of offenders whose case files have been prepared by the Nigeria Police.

5. May I also appeal to all political parties to ensure the conduct of transparent, credible and rancour-free primaries for the nomination of candidates. From the 2019 general elections, we have seen how acrimonious party primaries have been, resulting in numerous litigations and making our preparations for elections difficult. We are still grappling with issues arising from the conduct of party primaries. Pre-election litigations through the regular courts (the High Courts, Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court) have resulted in a number of judgements in favour of petitioners. So far, primary elections conducted by political parties in 22 constituencies across the Federation have been upturned by the regular Courts of Law on account of improper party primaries. In all cases, we have obeyed the orders of court and issued Certificates of Return to candidates declared winners by the Courts. More of such judgments have been received and are currently under consideration by the Commission.

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6. Once again, I welcome the Bayelsa State stakeholders. We are confident that with your support, the Commission will conduct credible Governorship election in November.

7. Thank you and God bless

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