AHEAD of the August 18 bye-election in Rivers State, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Nigeria Police have assured the people of the state of a free, fair and violent-free poll.
The bye-election for the seat of Port Harcourt Constituency III in the State House of Assembly became imperative as the former occupier of the position, Mr. Victor Ihunwo, left, contested and won the recent local government election in the state.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Obo Effanga, urged political parties and their supporters to shun any act that would disrupt the exercise.
Effanga, who said measures had been put in place to ensure a hitch-free bye-election, pointed out that the exercise would be a test-run for the 2019 general election, describing it as a priority for the commission.
The state REC explained that INEC was ready to work with civil society organisations and youth groups in ensuring a high level of sensitisation that would encourage a high voters’ turnout during the exercise.
“For groups that have shown interest in partnering with INEC on voters’ sensitisation and publicity, we will be part of that. I will ensure that every party, contestant is given a fair chance to register.
“I will also ensure that every party, candidate participate and vote during elections. We will talk with party agents, political parties and other stakeholders in the state,” he said.
Also, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zaki Ahmed, assured the people that the police would provide a secure environment during the election.
Ahmed, who was represented at the event by Deputy Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr. Stephen Aso, expressed the readiness of his men for the exercise and advised that political parties should prevail on their supporters to shun violence and any other election malpractice.
He said, “Security agencies are supposed to protect you (political parties) and voters so that INEC can do their job without hitches. I want to plead with the stakeholders to play according to the rule of engagement.
“In a football match, there must be a winner or loser. If you lose, please, accept defeat. We want you to cooperate with us and ensure that the election goes on peacefully.”