The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said yesterday that there won’t be substitution of candidates in the 22 bye-elections holding this Saturday.
Speaking during the swearing in of two Resident Electoral Commissioners, Dr Alalibo Sinikiem Johnson from Bayelsa State and Umar Mukhtar Gajiram from Borno State that were posted to Cross Rivers and Taraba respectively, INEC national chairman, Prof Yakubu, ruled out substitution of candidates ahead of the Saturday’s polls.
According to Yakubu, the only exempted constituency for the substitution of candidates are Gamawa Federal Constituency in Bauchi State and Agwara State Constituency in Niger State where elections will be held without the candidates and parties that were declared winners in the general election.
“I wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission is ready for the re-run elections. All sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been deployed to the States, stakeholders’ meetings have been held, security arrangements are being finalised while training and posting of ad hoc staff as well as the configuration of Smart Card Readers are ongoing. Where the elections involve entire constituencies, National as well as some Resident Electoral Commissioners will be deployed,” Yakubu said.
He said the Commission will work with the security agencies to ensure adequate protection of election officials, accredited observers, the media and the processes generally against acts inimical to the conduct of peaceful and credible elections.
“We have received assurances from the security agencies of adequate protection of the processes in line with the rules of engagement for election duty,” Yakubu added.
On the swearing in of the new RECs, Yakubu said the Senate had recently confirmed the nomination of two Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) as a result of the vacancies that exist in two States of the Federation.
“Consequently, two new RECs have just been sworn-in. They are Dr Alalibo Sinikiem Johnson from Bayelsa State and Umar Mukhtar Gajiram from Borno State. Dr Johnson is from Bayelsa State and replaces the former REC of Cross River State while Mr. Gajiram replaces the former REC of Taraba State who died a few months ago.”
“Dr Johnson holds a BSc. degree in Political Science and a Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Peace and Conflict Studies. Until this appointment, he was a Lecturer at the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State. Mr Gajiram, holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He served in various capacities in the Borno State civil service until his retirement as a substantive Director,” Yakubu said of the new RECs.
“Let me, therefore, congratulate Dr Johnson and Mr. Gajiram on their appointment. As I told your colleagues on the occasion of their swearing-in as RECs, you will also be responsible for the implementation of the Commission’s policies. In doing so, you will exercise supervisory control over personnel, resources as well the legal and administrative processes in the State to which you are deployed. You will also interact with various categories of stakeholders. In doing so, you must maintain the required openness and consultation. At the same time, you must be very firm in the discharge of your responsibilities.
“As RECs, you can be deployed to any part of the country at any time the exigencies of service require but you will never serve in your States of origin throughout your tenure. In line with this policy, Dr Johnson is hereby deployed to Cross River State while Mr. Gajiram is deployed to Taraba State.
“Your deployment today is coming just three days to the conduct of several re-run elections by court order. On Saturday this week, elections will hold in 28 constituencies spread across 11 States of the Federation. Six of these elections involve entire constituencies while 22 elections will be held only in some polling units. In all the constituencies, the elections will be contested by the same political parties and candidates that participated in the 2019 general election except where the elections were nullified on grounds of candidate disqualification. The two affected constituencies are Gamawa Federal Constituency in Bauchi State and Agwara State Constituency in Niger State where elections will be held without the candidates and parties that were declared winners in the general election. There will be no substitution of candidates as these are not bye-elections but court-ordered re-run elections and the period for nomination of candidates had lapsed since the end of 2018 in preparation for the 2019 general election,” Yakubu added.
While thanking the commission, Dr Alalibo Sinikiem Johnson said they are coming to the INEC to ensure there mandate and responsibilities there is free and fair elections in Nigeria.