Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday said Benue State ranks highest in incidences of electoral violence in the March 28 elections.
Addressing a stakeholders’ forum on free, fair and credible elections in Makurdi, Jega said he was in the state as a result of the disturbing situation to appeal for calm.
He noted that though the recent elections were generally peaceful, Benue had the worst record of disruption of the electoral process and burning of INEC property.
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“We witnessed highest incidences of violence and burning of INEC offices in Benue State. The level of disruption of the electoral process witnessed in the state is incomparable to any other that we have seen in the election. That is why I felt the need to come here (Makurdi) to appeal to stakeholders for peace. Close to 200 card readers were destroyed in one local government alone but I have come with more card readers,” he said.
The chairman who spoke through a rowdy session evidenced by disagreements between supporters of the PDP and the APC stressed the need for the people of the state to partner with INEC for peaceful and credible elections on Saturday.
Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Prof. Istifanus Dafwang had expressed uncertainty on security of lives and property in the coming election, saying, “We don’t know what will happen this Saturday.”
He alleged that armed thugs were everywhere and that their number would far outweigh the number of security personnel deployed for the polls, fearing that the situation would be worst in the North East senatorial district where Governor Gabriel Suswam and Senator Barnabas Gemade hail from.
Dafwang blamed the Suswam government for the spate of violence in the district during the presidential and National Assembly elections, listing “loss of faith in government” as among the factors which affected the exercise in the zone. At the interactive session, most of the PDP stakeholders demanded the removal of the REC on the allegation that he was biased in the March 28 elections.
Source: Daily Trust