Bayelsa/Kogi elections: Protesters Storm INEC, Insists IDPs Must Vote

Some civil society organisations on Friday stormed the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja calling for transparency in the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

They also demanded that Internally Displaced Persons in the two states must be accommodated in the elections.

The protesters led by Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians; Atoye Ariyo-Dare of Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution and Raphael Adebayo of Free Nigeria Movement numbered over 200.

Some placards carried by the protesters read: ‘Cancel elections at any polling unit where there is violence’, ‘We want free, fair and credible elections in Kogi and Bayelsa,’ ‘No to vote buying’, ‘We no want wuruwuru election in Kogi and Bayelsa’ and ‘Don’t disenfranchise IDPs.’

A protest letter titled: Bayelsa and Kogi States: An Appeal to INEC”, was received by a Director who simply gave his name as John Samuel on behalf of INEC chairman.

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The letter read to journalists by Adebayo of Free Nigeria Movement stated: “We write to express our concern on the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States and to equally state emphatically that these scheduled polls offer the commission a great opportunity to right the wrongs of the 2019 general elections, correct the mistakes of the past and improve on the gaps identified by local and international observers.

“This is INEC’s first outing after the last general polls which fell below the minimum standard for conducting a credible election in our estimation and as confirmed in the post-election reports of notable organizations. Hence, we wish to encourage and task the commission to put in place strong mechanisms that will make the two elections to be adjudged as free, fair and credible.

“We have read multiple media reports on your concern that thugs have been heavily mobilized to disrupt the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections. While we commend the honesty of the commission in its risk assessment report on the forthcoming elections, we must strongly urge the commission to be firm and unbiased in dealing with any form of electoral misconduct or violence by any of the political parties during the forthcoming elections.

“Finally, we would like to urge the commission to stay true to its promise that Internally Displaced Persons will not be disenfranchised during elections in Nigeria. To engender inclusiveness in the electoral process, it is important that the IDPs in Kogi and Bayelsa States are allowed to vote in the forthcoming governorship elections.”