By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA—Ahead of Saturday’s conduct of outstanding state and federal constituency elections in Rivers State, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, weekend, took exception to statements credited to the state governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, describing his utterances as inciting, provocative and dangerous.
INEC, in a statement, urged stakeholders and actors in the Rivers political space to desist from making statements capable of derailing the process.
INEC and the governor have, in recent times, been at each other’s neck with the governor accusing the electoral body of conniving with All Progressives Congress, APC, to rig the elections in APC’s favour, while INEC had earlier warned Wike to desist from making such wild allegations.
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the commission described the governor’s allegations as false and an incitement to violence, saying, “The Commission condemns, in very strong terms, the relentless false allegations, provocative and dangerous comments being made by some political actors, especially the governor of Rivers State, Mr. Wike, against the commission, all of which are capable of inciting people to commit violent acts that could derail the election.
“We appeal to stakeholders to henceforth refrain from making pronouncements that could either overheat the state or instigate their followers to violence. We also appeal to all the political parties and their supporters to abide by the extant laws governing the electoral process. We wish to reassure all Nigerians that the commission will remain impartial and committed to conducting credible, fair and transparent elections at all times.”
The commission also expressed its readiness to go ahead with the polls on Saturday, saying it arrived at the date only “after months of wide consultations with stakeholders aimed at creating a conducive atmosphere.”
Promising to conclude the elections in Rivers State “in a free, fair, and transparent manner on December 10, 2016”, INEC said the recent Edo and Ondo governorship elections eloquently spoke of the feat that could be achieved if all stakeholders did the needful.