By Rotimi Ojomoyela & Luminous Jannamike 

ABUJA—THE Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, yesterday, urged the House of Representatives to expedite action on the passage of the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, warning that any further delay might ‘jeopardise’ the sanctity of the forthcoming general elections in 2023.

This came on a day the winner of the June 18 governorship election in Ekiti State and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, and his Deputy, Mrs. Monisade Afuye, received their Certificates of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. 

The IPAC National Chairman, Mr. Yabagi Sani, who spoke at a briefing in Abuja on the conduct of the Ekiti governorship election, noted the cases of electoral malpractice and other sundry offences, particularly vote-buying, in last Saturday’s governorship poll in Ekiti.

It, therefore, warned that if adequate statutory laws are not put in place by the National Assembly to facilitate the prosecution of the suspects arrested in Ekiti, to serve as a deterrent to those contemplating to sabotage the forthcoming general election, the country would face the risk of having a leader who may not necessarily be the people’s choice in 2023.

Sani said: “Accordingly, IPAC calls on the National Assembly to expedite action on the Electoral Offences Commission and urges President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to it before the 2023 general elections.

“The arrest and prosecution of electoral offenders will restore sanity in the nation’s democratic process.

 “Meanwhile, the Police should quickly prosecute those arrested for vote-buying in Ekiti State, including INEC officials and security agents who aided and abetted the crime.”

He also urged INEC to review its performance in Ekiti to improve in the forthcoming Osun State governorship election

He said: “Every vote must count and be counted in the overall result without the inducement of the electorate. 

“This is the only way to boost the nation’s electoral process and encourage massive voter turnout in subsequent elections. 

“Nigerians yearn for a new lease of life and dividends of democracy, not carnage as obtainable today across the country.”

Oyebanji, deputy-elect get Certificates of Return 

Meanwhile, speaking while receiving the certificate alongside Mrs Afuye at INEC’s office in Ado Ekiti, Oyebanji promised not to betray the Ekiti people in his service to them.

Addressing the crowd of party supporters and admirers, Oyebanji said: “Let me thank the INEC for providing a level playing ground for the contenders in this election. I can’t agree with the INEC less that the BVAS was a game-changer in our election. 

“Nobody ever believed what happened on Saturday could ever happen. Some people did not believe that rigging of elections was over, but the Ekiti election convinced us. 

“The people committed such huge trust in us because of the stellar performance of Governor Kayode Fayemi, and it was that I will build on. What happened on Saturday was a referendum and validation that the APC-led government has performed.”

Addressing the recipients, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC in Ekiti State, Dr Adeniran Tella, said the presentation of certificates was in line with Section 72(1) of the Electoral Act, which stipulated that the commission should present certificates to the governor and deputy within 14 days of being elected.

Tella said: “The customisation of all election materials reduced the incidents of hijack. All stakeholders, particularly the political parties and security agencies should support INEC in the introduction of technology to enhance our electoral process and reduce the number of electoral offenders.”

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