Ekweremadu gave the admonition while speaking with journalists at the Enugu West Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Mega rally held in Agwu, Enugu State, ahead of the Saturday election.
He said: “I believe that the INEC will be able to conduct a free and fair elections if they follow the rules. They have said that several times. But they also have to understand that, as the President would say, the world is also watching us. At the end of the day, it is the INEC that will be on trial. It is their chairman that will be on trial. If anything goes wrong, he will be held responsible. If it goes well, he will take all the credit.
“We have come a long way as a country. We have tried to freshen up our electoral processes through some legislative efforts. We have amended the constitution severally in order to get the best practices. But no matter the quantum of laws we have made, the important thing is for INEC to live up to expectations to get their people to do the correct thing whether you are ad hoc staff or you are a permanent staff of INEC. Ultimately they will answer for their conduct”.
The lawmaker said it was also up to the security agencies to live up to their several promises of neutrality, professional conduct, and protection of INEC, electoral materials and voters.
“We have heard their promises. We will give them benefit of doubt. But they must have to remember that in 2015, some people allegedly compromised their positions and many of them lost their jobs. To compromise yourself because of one politician that choses to be fraudulent is not worth it. Then, you would have compromised your career and family.
“They (security agents) must realise that there will be a day or days after the elections. Whatever you do, you will also answer for your conduct.
“Importantly too, I believe that the best judge of human conduct is your conscience. I appeal to them to be conscientious and professional because we are going to tell the story after Saturday in terms of who did what and eventually blames will come and praises will as well”, he added.
He tipped the PDP to record a landslide victory in Enugu, but called for vigilance.
“Because Enugu is basically PDP we are not expecting any problem. We just expect that people will move very early to the polling stations, stay there for the arrival of the voting materials, crosscheck the materials to ensure that all necessary materials are there, and then commence the process of accreditation and voting.
“After voting they should remain there and wait until the end and of course to watch the votes collated and results announced before they leave. They will not only take copies, but also take pictures of the results and be able to circulate as widely as possible. With that I am sure that they will be able have control of what happens. Eternal vigilance”, he concluded.
The mega rally turned a carnival as popular Nigerian musical artistes, including Davido, Flavour, Zoro, Quincy, Nigga Raw, among others thrilled the mammoth crowd and dignitaries such the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwunayi.
CDHR Demands Factors That Led Postponement Of Elections
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has demanded an investigation into the factors that led to the postponement of the elections.
The group also expressed disappointment with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the postponement of the elections.
INEC had announced the postponement of the elections earlier on Saturday by one week.
A statement by Malachy Ugwummadu, the CDHR President, noted that the postponement has cast “serious shadow on the integrity of the commission” to conduct credible elections.
The statement read: “The CDHR notes with utter disappointment the postponement of the 2019 general elections on account of general poor logistics. This development, just hours before the elections, raises so many questions as to the capacity of INEC to conveniently discharge on their mandate. The Presidential and National Assembly elections were postponed to February 23, 2019 while the Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections were postponed to March 9, 2019.
“This postponement has cast serious shadow on the credibility and integrity of the entire election process. As a contest, this unfortunate development has unwittingly created fertile grounds for competing political parties to discredit the process. International and local observers have mobilized at high costs and resources and are now demobilized. The entire economy and education sector in particular suffered the worst hit having been shut down for the period under review.
“By Section 15(a) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), INEC is vested with global powers and vires to organize, undertake and supervise all elections. Under Section 26 of the Electoral Act 2011 the same INEC drawing from the broad powers to organize and conduct elections can postpone an election earlier than scheduled but for the restricted reasons of insecurity, natural disaster or emergency. It is expected that concerns of logistics may not be profound enough to ground suspension of general elections over which huge budgetary allocations have been approved and received.
“Recall that both in 2011 and 2015 when there were such postponements the context are different from what we have just witnessed in the instant case where INEC consistently reassured the nation that the elections will hold with no possibility of postponement. On this score alone, INEC have not been truthful with the people since all the variables founding the bases of earlier assurances could not have changed in less than four hours to the election. The President, though a contestant, had in a national broadcast addressed the public on the scheduled election for today 16 February 2019. INEC itself has over a year ago released a comprehensive timetable of this election.
“In 2015 it was the executive through the National Security Advisor to then President Goodluck Jonathan and after due consultations with National Council of States and all stakeholders announced the postponement. What is more? We appreciate that at all times material to the postponement, the election materials including sensitive materials have been dispatched and a lot more already at their relevant locations. What happens to those materials? To what extent can the integrity of those materials already dispatched be guaranteed?
“In blaming INEC whose responsibility it is to generally organize the election, it should be recalled that it got caught in the interplay of power when the National Assembly foot-dragged on the consideration and approval of INEC budgetary allocation leaving them with serious time constraints in sourcing and procuring election materials. No doubt INEC trudged on as though all was well and even issued timetable and guidelines based on those assurances.”
The CDHR went on to make five demands: “An unequivocal apology to the Nigerian people and representatives of international communities that are here in the country; clear explanation from INEC as to the circumstance and exact reason why the election was postponed; a serious and thorough inquiry by an independent panel to ascertain what happened; appropriate sanction to relevant persons who failed in their responsibility and consequently took this decision in order to serve as a deterrent; consideration for decentralization and unbundling of INEC along the multifaceted responsibilities of that commission have now become imperative.”
Nigeria elections: Gani Adams blows hot over INEC postponement
He, however, warned the electoral umpire not to give further excuses, noting that already, the shift had a huge implication on the integrity of Nigeria, both in Africa and across the world.
Adams, in a statement he signed on Saturday, stated shift has raised questions about its level of preparedness.
He said: “Report of the non availability of sensitive and non sensitive election materials in about 15 states has raised questions on the credibility and level of preparedness of the electoral body, and the leadership of INEC should remember the inglorious story of the June 12 annulment that eventually draw the nation backward.
“I want to say that the one week window occasioned by the postponement will determine a lot of things about the Nigerian future, and there should be no inconclusive election, no excuse, either head or tail election must hold.
“Every plan is as good as its implementation. Ordinarily, the timing for the postponement is wrong, it should have come at least, two weeks before the election, not two hours to the day of election. And like every other Nigerians that have been reacting, I want to say it categorically, that it is sad that the electoral umpire had to shift the date of the election barely a few hours into the election.
“The biggest corruption is to rig an election. It is also frustrating that Nigerians gave up their livelihood. Businesses are put on hold across the country and Nigerians had to go through the same pain stocking assorted food stuffs, and staying at home just for them to cast their votes.
“But as a Nigerian who believe in peace and the unity of the country, I urge the INEC to prepare well and put its house in order for it to succeed in its duty to conduct free, fair and credible elections”, he said.
Nigeria elections 2019: How NYSC Corps members reacted to postponement of polls
DAILY POST had reported that INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, while addressing reporters at the press centre of the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital, said that the polls would not go on as planned due to some challenges encountered by the commission.
He explained that the decision to postpone the polls followed a careful review of the implementation of the logistics and operational plans put in place for the exercise.
Some of the corps members, who served as INEC Ad-hoc staff, spoke to NAN in separate interviews in Kabba that they were disappointed.
Chika Ezeogu, a corps member, who was assigned to a Polling Unit in a remote village in Kabba/Bunu LGA, told NAN that the postponement came very late and few hours to the election.
“We had already received elections’ materials and proceeded to our various wards.
“We were very surprised when we received information on the postponement. It was not really good after going through a lot of stress,’’ Ezeogu said.
A male corps member, who spoke to NAN on conditions of anonymity, said he was shocked about the news as he never expected such to happen few hours to election.
He urged the INEC and the Federal Government to ensure effective planning in the future.
Another male corps member, who also spoke on conditions of anonymity, said that he had arranged the election materials at the polling unit when they received a message on the postponement.
“My polling unit is in a remote village with poor network, and we couldn’t access network until after 7 a.m.
“We had already arranged election materials waiting for 8 a.m to begin accreditation and voting, when we suddenly received the message.
“We have pledged our loyalty to Nigeria to serve our motherland and we don’t have a choice,’’ he said.
Another corps member said: “I am just advising our leaders to be proactive in whatsoever they do to avoid a reoccurrence of such.”
Meanwhile, the Assistant Director, Public Relations, NYSC, Mr Adedapo Tayo, commended the corps members for their resilience, cool headedness, which were great virtues that would pave way for them in future.
Tayo, who is the NYSC Monitoring Officer for 2019 elections in Kabba, Mopamuro, Yagba East, and West LGAs, commended the corps members’ commitment to the service of their motherland.
“The corps members were trained and sensitised to how to conduct themselves during the elections.
“They accepted the postponement when it came, and went back to their various posts.
“So, we praise the DG NYSC, for the intensive sensitisation of corps members, to ensure they conduct themselves well,’’ Tayo said.
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