Senate seeks fairness, transparency in Osun election

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure equity, fairness and transparency before, during and after this Saturday’s bye-election to fill the vacant seat of Osun West Senatorial district.

This was part of the resolutions reached during Thursday plenary following a motion entitled, “Osun State Senatorial Rerun Election: The need for equity and transparency in the electioneering process.”

It was sponsored by Senator Duro Faseyi who came under Order 42 on matters of urgent public importance.

Senate also mandated the INEC, Nigeria Police; Department of State Services, DSS; Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and other relevant security agencies to ensure unhindered and unrestricted participation by all duly accredited voters in the election.

Similarly, it called on the security agencies to arrest and prosecutes any persons suspected or caught for electoral offences with full extent of the provisions of not only the Electoral Act, but all other relevant laws.

Senator Faseyi, while leading debate on the motion, recalled that “the death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke on April 23, 2017 created a vacuum in the Senate as the people of Osun West Senatorial District were left without representation”.

He said the Senate noted with serious concern the importance of the bye-election, saying “it will fill the void created and give the people their senatorial voice once again”.

The lawmaker also said “the recent verbal attacks by both candidates on themselves ahead of the election have the propensity to heat up a community that tethered on the edge of violence and breakdown of law and order”.

Senator Faseyi, however, observed that the Senate was convinced that the INEC has the capacity and is well equipped to deliver free and fair elections in the country.

In his contribution, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who seconded the motion said that the Osun West bye-election would serve as a litmus test for the 2019 general elections by the INEC.

Senator Ekweremadu charged the Commission and security agencies to ensure peaceful conduct of the bye-election so as to safeguard the lives and properties of the people of senatorial district.

In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki stressed the need for INEC to henceforth conduct peaceful election in the country and charged security agencies and all relevant stakeholders in electoral process to take necessary steps in forestalling any possible breakdown of law and order during the poll.

It would be recalled that the Commission had assured the public of free, fair and credible election, saying that it was fully prepared for the poll even as it debunked allegation by some political parties that it was trying to shift the date of bye-election as it affirmed July 8 date.

Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC of Delta State, Baritor Kpagih, has been deployed to Osun State for the purpose of the bye-election.

Kpagih, who disclosed that while 11 political parties would participate in the election, only electorate with permanent voters’ card verified by card readers would be allowed to vote during the election.

The REC, who further disclosed that voting and accreditation would take place simultaneously, said voting would commence by 8am and close by 2pm, adding however that whoever was on queue at the closing hour would be allowed to vote.

 

Nnenna.O