By BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO, Lokoja
Opposition parties in Kogi State have stated their intention to boycott today’s local government election for what they alleged as the ruling party’s perfected rigging strategy, in connivance with Kogi State Independent Electoral Commission, KOSIEC.
Addressing a joint press conference yesterday in Lokoja, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; Congress of Political Change, CPC said the attitude of KOSIEC in the last 72 hours and that of the ruling party, PDP, pointed towards thwarting the conduct of a free, fair, credible and transparent council poll.
Spokespersons for the opposition parties, Dino Melaye and Hon. Buba Jibril, said aside boycotting the election, they shall ensure that election did not hold in the State.
Enumerating their stand on why they will not participate, Dino said, “the prerequisite for conduct of election is not in place in the State. The SIEC chairman is a PDP card-carrying member who contested the House of Assembly primaries of Kabba/Bunu State Constituency who is yet to be replaced inspite of our complaints. Already, there is a conflict of interest by the KOSIEC.
“Till now and contrary to the electoral act, no polling units have been marked for election; returning officers and polling clerks are PDP card- carrying members against the earlier stand to use Youth Corps members. Also, there is no display of voters register”
Buba on his own said, the ruling party is using the instrument of government to intimidate and scare away the opposition leaders. “Some of the opposition members have been arrested over the night with some running away from the State”.
The duo called on the Inspector General of Police, the Directorate of State Security and the international community to see to their plight, saying they can only participate in the council poll when the political atmosphere is right.
”There will be no election, and if there is no election, there cannot be declaration of result. The action of KOSIEC in the last 48 hours has cast doubt on their early promises of a credible election as 45 out of 105 voting boxes have already been missing in Lokoja LG and seven ballot boxes are missing in Ijumu Local Government. This is a sad development for democracy in our state and the country”. Buba concluded.
8,550 Police for council poll
In a related development, Kogi State Police Command has deployed 8,550 police personnel to monitor the council poll.
Addressing journalists yesterday, the State Commissioner of Police, Hilary Okpara, said out of the number, 4,800 were drawn from four neighbouring states to help ensure free and fair election.
He added that the deployment was to prevent breakdown of law as well as ensuring that the wishes of the people prevailed at the end, adding that they will make sure that no materials would be hijacked by politicians.
He said the police have held a meeting with both the chairmanship and councilorship candidates of various parties as well as other stakeholders in the election to let them know that the police did not want anything short of free and fair poll and that they should take the message to their people.
Okpara warned that the Police would not tolerate any act of violence during the election, saying that any attempt to disrupt the election would be visited with commensurate lawful force.
He urged the people to be law-abiding during the election and not allow themselves to be used by politicians who are out for their selfish interest.