INEC threatens suspension of Edo, Ondo guber polls if violence continues/ Festus Okoye

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it would not hesitate suspending the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo if the violent atmosphere in both States drags.

The two states have continued to make the headlines as elections close in with some political gladiators and pary supporters engaging in violent activities.

But in a statement issued through its spokesman, Festus Okoye, on Thursday, INEC expressed worry over the prevalence of violence among candidates, and supporters of the various political parties in the two States.

The Commission stated that should the trend continues unabated, it “will not shirk its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game," adding that “it is important for political parties, candidates and their supporters to keep in mind that there are extant laws and regulations that they must adhere to during campaigns."

The statement read: “Consequently, parties and candidates must on no account underestimate the resolve of the Commission to enforce the rules and regulations and apply appropriate sanctions against those who choose to break them. The Commission remains determined to conduct peaceful elections in the two States and in the outstanding National and State Assembly bye-elections.

“Political Parties must realize that Edo and Ondo Governorship elections are taking place at a time of a global pandemic and the Commission is working assiduously to observe and comply with all health and safety protocols issued by the Commission and health authorities.

“Political Parties must remember that Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines and threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis.

“The Commission wishes to reassure the people of Edo and Ondo States of its determination to conduct credible and safe elections in the two states. The Commission shall not hesitate to discontinue the process should the actions of political actors lead to cogent and verifiable threat and/or breakdown of law and order before or during the elections.”

The development comes days after INEC announced that it would not announce any winner in both states if violence breaks out during the elections.