The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has rejected the call for the postponement of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State for the West African Senior School Examination scheduled to hold on the same day.
This was disclosed by the National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, during a stakeholders’ meeting in Benin City on Wednesday.
This is also coming on the heels of a call by the Nigerian Police and Department of State Services, DSS, on Wednesday, on the electoral umpire to consider shifting the election, citing intelligence report of threats of attacks by terrorists and extremists.
About 1,742 candidates are scheduled to sit for Mathematics on Saturday in the state.
However, Yakubu, who spoke through the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun, insisted that the electoral body had given adequate notification on the date for the election prior to the date fixed for the examinations.
He said: “It is important to draw your attention to the fact that INEC gave notice of this election on March 2, 2016. There was no registration for WASSCE candidates as of that time.”
According to him, discussions held with WAEC and security agencies concluded that the exam should be moved to Ondo and Delta states, noting that holding the exam in the state at the time of the election would create security challenges.
Yakubu said, “The issue is, basically, security. So, the security agencies advised WAEC accordingly that giving room for people to move around may pose some challenges because many people will cash in on the situation.
“Permit me to remind you also that there are about 1.9 million registered voters in Edo State, whose interest also should be taken care of. At the end of that meeting, we agreed that the exams be shifted outside Edo State to places that are nearby.
“Indeed, WAEC had even concluded arrangements to do this. It suggested Ore, Agbor and one other place. Yes, there might be some inconveniences for the students to travel outside Edo State; but, of course, it is not too much pain to bear if you have your state at heart.
“I do not think we need to suspend an election because WAEC is going to conduct GCE. It is not SSCE but GCE for those who did not do well in the past exams,” Yakubu said.
It is however not clear what position the electoral body would take on the latest advice by the police and the DSS.
According to the security agencies, Edo State featured prominently among the states terrorists and extremists plan to attack between the 12th and 13th of this month.
INEC is yet to respond to the advice as at press time.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews….
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