|Professor Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman|
BENIN CITY— CHAIRMAN of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday, arrived Benin City, Edo State, for a stakeholders’ meeting ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in the state and assured Nigerians of the resolve of the commission to conduct a free, fair and credible election.
Jega who arrived Benin Airport at 3:15pm, also gave reasons why some civil society organisations were not accredited to monitor the poll, saying that those complaining that they were not accredited either did not meet the requirements of the commission or they failed to apply within the stipulated time.
Readiness of the Commission
On the readiness of the Commission to conduct a free and fair election in the state, Jega said “we are in Edo State in fulfillment to the promise we made to Nigerians in general and the people of Edo State in particular to ensure free, fair and credible election.
He said: “We have been working day and night and we have been doing our best to ensure that there was indeed, a free, fair credible and peaceful election in Edo State. We have done everything possible based on the rules and regulations to promptly accredit observers for the election in the state. Our mission here is to ensure peaceful election. I am here to make sure that things were done as planned before the election on Saturday.
Meeting with stakeholders
“We are also to meet with the stakeholders because we normally do so. Before elections, we meet with stakeholders, brief them on our last minute preparations and if they have any last minute questions or complaints, we address them.”
Civil society groups
On why some civil society organisations in the state were not accredited, the INEC boss explained, “we had used the same procedures to accredit observers in all the elections we held in INEC since the April 2011 elections. We applied that criteria rigorously, we normally advertise and people are given time within which to apply.
“Any body who did not apply within the time allocated will not be considered and that was what happened in this regard. We did not deliberately exclude any body, any body who had not been accredited to observe the Edo election or indeed all other elections, it was because they had not satisfied the requirements for accreditation for the elections. We heard stories being bandied about, that we did not accredit any Edo civil society organisation, that is false, we have accredited many Edo civil society organisations.
“But some did not meet the requirements, it is either they did not meet on time, or the criteria we set out, they did not meet it. Any body who did not comply with that criteria, we did not accredit. It is not the first time we are doing so. we have done it in all previous elections. We only accredit people who met the criteria we set for the elections,” he said.