Despite growing controversy and calls that the Resident Electoral Commission (REC) in Imo State, Prof Sylvia Agu, be removed, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that there is no reason to remove the official.
“The REC will conduct the election,” said Rotimi Oyekanmi on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Wednesday.
Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, noted that there was no reason to remove the REC, adding that complaints against Agu were based on suspicion.
He said, “We don’t have any reason to remove her from there and we don’t have any evidence that implicate her or prove any allegation that is being alleged at this time.”
“The Commission takes its responsibility seriously and we don’t joke with the conduct of elections, and when there are complaints against our officers, we also don’t joke with complaints but you must provide evidence that our officers are culpable,” Oyekanmi stated.
The spokesperson for the INEC chair said took disciplinary actions against its RECs in Abia, Sokoto and Adamawa states during the general elections earlier in the year when they acted outside the provisions of the commission.
‘No Evidence Against Agu’
Last Sunday, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, redeployed Mohammed Barde as the Commissioner of Police in Imo State for “neutrality sake” following demands by the Organised Labour that Barde was complicit in the attack on the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero.
The candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Samuel Anyanwu; and Labour Party (LP), Athan Achonu, on Tuesday, staged a walkout at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by INEC, after they demanded the redeployment of Agu just as the police redeployed Barde.
However, Oyekanmi said, “As far as we are concerned, we haven’t seen anything to implicate the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Imo State.”
He assured the political parties in the election that INEC will be fair and unbiased.
“The assurance we are giving to all political parties is that we are not going to allow any pandering towards any interest in this election; our interest is to conduct free, fair and credible elections,” Oyekanmi said.
’27 RECs Deployed’
He added that the electoral umpire has deployed nine additional RECs and two national commissioners to each of the three states where governorship elections will hold on November 11, 2023.
The official also said 46,000 staff of the commission have been deployed to the three states while sensitive and non-sensitive materials including Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines have been delivered in the three states.
Oyekanmi said there was no reason to doubt the capacity of security agencies, assuring voters in the three states that the Result Viewing Portal (IReV) would work on Saturday.
Like Imo, governorship polls will hold on Saturday in Bayelsa and Kogi.
Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State and Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State are seeking re-election in their respective states whilst Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State is out of the ballot, nearing the completion of his double terms of eight years.
Some of the top contenders in the November 11, 2023 poll in Kogi include Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP); Leke Abejide of the African Democratic Party (ADC); Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who is an ex-Auditor General of Local Government in Kogi under Bello.
For Imo, Anyanwu and Achonu, amongst others will be challenging APC’s Uzodimma at the poll while in Bayelsa, APC’s Timipre Sylva, amongst others will slug it out at the poll with PDP’s Diri.