Edo REC: INEC asks Police to avoid actions capable of creating impression of harassment of its officials

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the Nigerian Police to avoid any action that are capable of creating the impression of harassment of its officials or infringement of its independence, “especially at this critical period of our preparations for the 2023 General Election.”

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INEC stated this on Friday in a statement signed by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye Esq.

INEC was reacting to the police invitation on the Edo Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, in connection with a party primaries.

The electoral body said although the Edo State Police Command had issued a clarification ” saying that the REC was only invited to provide insight into some technical issues regarding our processes and nothing more,”  “…we wish to point out that any other official of the Commission assigned by the REC could have provided the required insight. Alternatively, a visit to our State Office by the Commissioner of Police or his assigned representative could have achieved the same goal as has been the tradition in our collaborative relationship with security agencies.”

Read the full statement below:

POLICE INVITATION TO OUR RESIDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER FOR EDO STATE

The attention of the Commission has been drawn to media reports that our Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Edo State, Dr Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, was invited and detained by the Edo State Police Command yesterday 28th July 2022 in connection with matters arising from the recent primaries conducted by a political party in the State.

The Commission can confirm that the REC was invited. However, the Edo State Police Command has issued a statement to clarify the situation, saying that the REC was only invited to provide insight into some technical issues regarding our processes and nothing more. He was neither detained nor is he personally under investigation as media reports suggested.

While we welcome the clarification by the Police Command, we wish to point out that any other official of the Commission assigned by the REC could have provided the required insight. Alternatively, a visit to our State Office by the Commissioner of Police or his assigned representative could have achieved the same goal as has been the tradition in our collaborative relationship with security agencies.

For emphasis, our REC in Edo State, Dr Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, is a conscientious public officer and co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) at State level. He was the sitting REC when the last Governorship election was conducted in Edo State on 19th September 2020 which was adjudged to be free, fair and credible.

Any action capable of creating the impression of harassment of our officials or infringment of the independence of the Commission must be avoided, especially at this critical period of our preparations for the 2023 General Election.

Festus Okoye Esq.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee
Friday 29th July 2022.

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