CSOs say advice to postpone Edo election unconstitutional

editorial-election-voteA coalition of over 70 Civil Society Organisations already  in Benin-City to observe the Edo governorship election has expressed disappointment with the Nigerian security agencies over the roles they played postponing the gubernatorial poll in the state.

Both the Department of State Service and the Nigeria Police Force had recommended to the Independent National Electoral omission (INEC) to postpone the Edo gubernatorial poll for security reasons.

They had warned that in the event it decided to go ahead with the poll, they must not be blamed for any security challenge they encounter during the conduct of the poll as they would not be able to guarantee the security of INE’s staff, electoral materials and the voters.

But in a statement by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room), the coalition said the advice by the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Security (DSS) to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the Edo Governorship election scheduled for Saturday, 10 September 2016 was unconstitutional.

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‎It called on the people of Edo State to remain calm and vigilant and be ready to protect their constitutional rights to vote.

The statement ‎reads: “Situation Room considers this advice as a gratuitous and unconstitutional interference in the independence of INEC.

“The advice is in clear violation of S.160 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which forbids any person or authority from giving directives or seeking to control INEC – it being an independent body.

“It is surprising that the Police and DSS who are part of the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Elections Security (ICCES) together with INEC, did not formally brief INEC before issuing this contentious statement, to enable all key stakeholders review whatever security challenges the security services may claim to have arisen.

“The  ‘advice’ by these security agencies has undermined public confidence in the conduct of the Edo State Governorship poll.

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“INEC now faces a more challenging task of assuring all parties that a revised poll can be properly organized within a constitutionally stipulated timeframe.”