Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof Mahmood Yakubu has expressed concern over issues of electoral violence and voter inducements ahead of the November governorship election in Kogi.
He spoke yesterday in Lokoja during a meeting with governorship candidates in the forthcoming election, political parties and other stakeholders in the electoral process.
Mahmood said utterances and actions of political actors and their supporters which could lead to violence in the build up to the election were of concern to the commission, hence the need for the meeting to sensitise critical stakeholders and political actors on the need to give peace a chance before, during and after the election.
The INEC boss warned that the commission will not tolerate harassment of election officials at polling units and collation centres during the poll.
“We want Kogi election to be violence-free and conclusive. INEC is not a political party and we are not interested in any candidate but the process,” he said.
Mahmood solicited the support of traditional and religious leaders in sensitising their subjects and adherents to be peaceful and orderly in their conduct during the election.
He said the commission was also concerned about the issue of vote buying and inducement of voters ahead of the November governorship election given the reported cases witnessed in the state in the last general elections.
Mahmood, who described inducements of voters as undemocratic, warned that the commission would not take the issue of vote buying lightly in the forthcoming election.
He said the commission was fully ready for the November governorship election, adding that he was satisfied with level of deployment of non-sensitive materials across the 21 local government areas of the state.
Governor Yahaya Bello, in his remarks, assured stakeholders and citizens of the state of rancour-free and credible election, saying he would not use violence to actualise his second term ambition.
“I call on other candidates to play the game according to the rule. The people of the state are very civil and have demonstrated their civility on several occasions including in the conduct of the last election.
On his part, the PDP governorship candidate, Engr Musa Wada, said his ambition was not worth the blood of any Kogi citizen, assuring that he, his party and supporters would conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.
He however opposed the involvement of the military in the forthcoming election, saying only the police should be deployed for the election.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has said that about 25,000 policemen would be deployed for the election.
He disclosed this in Lokoja yesterday at a meeting between the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu and stakeholders in the state.
The IGP, who was represented by the DIG Operations, Abdulmalik Ali, said the police was fully prepared to provide adequate security for the election.