Edo: Polls’ postponement threatens democracy – Lawyer

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Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, INEC Chairman
Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, INEC Chairman

By Ifeanyi Nwoko

An Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mr Emmanuel Sawyer, on Friday condemned the postponement of the governorship election in Edo, saying it was security conspiracy against democracy in the country.

He accused security agencies of complicity in some of the problems in the nation’s electoral process, and urged Nigerians to hold them accountable for the shift in the Edo election.

The police had on Wednesday called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the election scheduled to hold on Saturday, citing security threat as reason.

In a joint news conference with the Department of Security Service (DSS) in Abuja, Force Spokesman, Mr Donald Awunah, said that they were in possession of intelligent report that terrorists planned to disrupt the election.

He said that the insurgents had also planned to attack some communities during the Salah celebration on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, adding that Edo was one of the states pencilled for the onslaught.

Sawyer told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that rather than call for shift in the election over security threat, security agencies ought to have mobilised and nipped the challenge in the bud.

According to him, they ought to strategise and adequately secure the state for INEC to conduct the election.

“To be fair to the opposition in Edo state, everybody has a right to suspect INEC and the security agencies, which have been perceived as biased in the process.

“We have to be very careful; we are in a democracy, we should not allow the security agencies to always wake up and tell us that it is not possible to hold election for security reasons.

“What have they been doing all the while; what have they done to put the security threat in check and why could they not address it before the election date if they had this information before now?

“It is a threat to our nation’s democracy and it is also a threat to the independence of INEC.

“This may jeopardise our democracy; no institution should be more than our democracy,” he said.

Sawyer also stressed that there was even no basis to recommend a postponement as Edo was one of the peaceful states in the South-South.

He said that if election could hold in Bayelsa, regarded as a highly volatile state, there was no basis for recommendation for postponement of election in Edo over a “tip off“ of plans to disrupt it.

“Edo state is not suffering from insecurity; so security should not be a yardstick for shifting election in the state.

“I would have expected the police and other security agencies to rise and show their professionalism.

“Look at what happened in Bayelsa in 2015; was the election shifted? Can anyone say that Bayelsa is more peaceful than Edo?

“What has happened in Edo must be stopped because it is dangerous to our democracy,” he said.

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