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Edo: No cogent, verifiable reason by Police, DSS to issue ‘postponement’ advice — CSOs

Nigeria Civil Society groups under the umbrella of "Situation Room" has condemned the Statement made by Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, postponing the governorship election…

Nigeria Civil Society groups under the umbrella of "Situation Room" has condemned the Statement made by Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, postponing the governorship election in Edo State,  saying that there was no cogent and verifiable reason for the ‘advice’ issued by the Police and DSS to INEC.

In its Statement, INEC said that it finally received late Thursday evening, official communication from the Police and the DSS drawing its attention on the need to postpone the election citing threats of terrorist activities in Edo State and other states of the Federation.

The groups in a statement on Thursday described the postponement of the election as an unwarranted assault on democracy.

"This is part of a disturbing trend in the erosion of public trust in our public officers, public institutions as well as growing skepticism about the general direction of our democracy under this administration".

The groups maintained that there was no cogent and verifiable reason for the gratuitous ‘advice’ issued by the Police and DSS to INEC.

" INEC was thus put into an impossible catch 22: go ahead with the elections and be blamed for the consequences of possibly contrived violence, or as is the present situation, postpone the elections and dash the hope of millions of Edo citizens primed and ready to cast their votes and fulfill their rights as democratic citizens".

The groups said that the postponement for whatever reasons, sends foreboding signs that our democratic principles and electoral practice is again under threat from non-democratic forces that are at once familiar and yet new.

"We can argue that since the hard fought elections of last year, we have simply had a change in government but not a change in the conduct of public officials, which sometimes border on impunity and recklessness" the groups said.

They appealed to the people of Edo state to be calm and law abiding ahead of the new date now fixed by INEC.

"The Situation Room also calls on the people of Edo State to remain vigilant and be ready to protect their constitutional rights to vote", they said.

The Situation Room called on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate this incident by ordering a credible investigation of the Police and the DSS action in this matter, and bring into account all persons responsible for the violation of the laws and the Constitution.

The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC, Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD),Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN) and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA). Others are Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than seventy.

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