The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police got a wake-up call from President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday. They must ensure that election results reflect the wish of the people.
The President spoke when he hosted INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu and Inspector-General (IG) Mohammed Adamu, at the State House in Abuja.
The President promised to ensure transparent, free and fair elections by employing all relevant state institutions.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, in a statement quoted the President as saying: “Those that you declare as winners must be the candidates that the people have chosen. Democracy is about free will, and the will of the people must be allowed to prevail. Get your acts right, and leave no room for underhand tricks or manipulation.”
The President restated his determination to give Nigeria an electoral system that meets with best practices anywhere in the world, and charged the electoral umpire to stick to the rules of fair play and adherence to justice.
President Buhari demanded from the police a scrupulous securing of the electoral process, without bias or favouritism.
“Our elections must be done in violence-free atmosphere. The process must be free, fair, decent and devoid of intimidation or malpractices. It is the duty of the police to accomplish that, and it is what I expect in the elections immediately ahead and going forward,” he said.
The INEC and the police pledged fidelity to the rules and regulations, stating that they know President Buhari as someone passionately committed to fair play.
They told reporters at the State House that the President got their assurance of delivering exemplary elections.
IG Adamu said the police would be using anyone who uses force to achieve his aim in any election to set an example, adding that the Police would not give room for election saboteurs.
The INEC boss said the Commission had set January 25, to conduct of 28 outstanding court-ordered re-run or by-elections across 11 states.
He said President Buhari reemphasized his commitment to seeing that Nigerians get free, fair and credible elections.
Prof Yakubu said: “We met with His Excellency, Mr President and he reitereated his commitment to ensuring that the processes of free and fair and the environment is secured for that to happen. That was why the meeting was held involving the electoral commission and the Inspector General of Police.
“Essentially, on the conclusion of all the litigations with respect to all the national and state houses of assembly elections arising from the 2019 general elections. So far 30 elections were nullified by court orders, some in whole state constituencies others in pocket constituencies.
“We have conducted two elections in these elections-Kogi West and Ajaokuta Federal Constituencies. We have 28 elections outstanding spread across 11 states and the Commission has already fixed 25th of January – that is in the next 19 days for the conduct of the court ordered re-run elections and we are ready for these elections.”
The IG said the police would apply itself to the order by the President to ensure that Nigerians have credible and enviable elections, adding that those acts that jeopardised the credibility of elections in the past would meet a brick-wall in the future.
He said: “The government wants to have an election process that is equal to none in terms of example that could be given to the world so that free, fair and credible elections will take place and for that reason there must be a secured environment.
“In securing the environment, the security strategy that was in place in the previous elections has to be reviewed, has to be enhanced so as to have an election that violence will not be tolerated, ballot snatching will not be tolerated.
“Those that usually participated in such actions like the politicians, security agencies, the INEC officials and any other group that partake in that, this time around they will not be allowed to do that.
“We shall make examples of anybody that wants to use violence to achieve his aim during the electoral process. This is the message that we are sending to Nigerians and this is the beginning of the process to make sure that this country from now onwards gets elections that is exemplary to the rest of the world.”