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Monday, 21 November 2016

Ondo 2016: INEC rejects calls for postponement, says election must hold Saturday

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has declared that the Ondo governorship election slated for Saturday, November 26, will hold as scheduled.
It rejected the call by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the election be shifted to allow the Supreme Court take a decision on pending issues relating to its candidate for the election.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ondo State, Olusegun Agbaje, told PREMIUM TIMES correspondent on Sunday that the call for postponement was unnecessary.
“There are 28 political parties contesting the election, we cannot postpone it because of just one party,” he said.
“This is a pre- election issue, it can go on even up to the Supreme Court, so we cannot wait for that. The election must go on.”
Mr. Agbaje noted that it was not reasonable to shift the election now because all the insensitive materials have been received in Akure.
He also said that the sensitive materials were also ready and now with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“With this level of preparation, we cannot be talking about postponement,” he noted.
“Let them go and put their house in order, and settle their problems, we cannot allow that to hold us back.”
The official said a final stakeholders meeting will be held in Akure on Tuesday where the Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, will address all political parties on pending issues.
However, PDP’s Publicity Secretary in Ondo State, Banji Okunomo, said the postponement is necessary to give all parties a level playing field given that all some matters were now before the Supreme Court.
“INEC has a hand in the candidacy crisis in the PDP,” Mr. Okunomo said. “But INEC is supposed to be neutral in this matter.
“Everybody is before the Supreme Court right now, which will begin to sit on the matter on Tuesday, we don’t know when it will finish.”
He said it was necessary for INEC to shift the election to avoid any crisis and because the commission is a party to the dispute.
Mr. Okunomo also argued that the shift would forestall a “foreseeable crisis” and ensure peace in the conduct of the election.
“It will be pre-emptive for INEC to go ahead with the election with a controversial candidate for the party,” he insisted.
Businessman Jimoh Ibrahim of the Ali Sheriff faction was listed as the candidate of the PDP by INEC on October 27, on the strength of the judgment of Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja Federal High Court.
Before then, Eyitayo Jegede of the Ahmed Makarfi camp had his name submitted to the commission and was the candidate until he was substituted.
The matter which had been at the appeal court, was to be decided on Friday, but had to be adjourned to allow the Supreme Court decide on the appeal brought by the factional chairman of the party in Ondo State, Biyi Poroye.
Mr. Poroye and others challenged the hearing of the matter by the Appeal Court.

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