A coalition of civil rights organisations have stormed the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja demanding inclusion of Internally Displaced Persons in the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
The protesters who numbered over 100, were led by Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians; Atoye Ariyo-Dare of Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution and Raphael Adebayo of Free Nigeria Movement.
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions including, ‘Cancel elections at any polling unit where there is violence’, ‘No to vote buying’, ‘We want free, fair and credible elections in Kogi and Bayelsa,’ ‘Don’t disenfranchise IDPs’ and ‘We no want wuruwuru election in Kogi and Bayelsa.’
Adebayo read the protest letter to journalists titled: Bayelsa and Kogi States: An Appeal to INEC”, which was received by a Director who simply gave his name as John Samuel (and hid his identity card) on behalf of INEC chairman.
The letter reads, “We write to express our concern on the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States and to equally state emphatically that these scheduled polls offer the commission a great opportunity to right the wrongs of the 2019 general elections, correct the mistakes of the past and improve on the gaps identified by local and international observers.
“This is INEC’s first outing after the last general polls which fell below the minimum standard for conducting a credible election in our estimation and as confirmed in the post-election reports of notable organizations. Hence, we wish to encourage and task the commission to put in place strong mechanisms that will make the two elections to be adjudged as free, fair and credible.
“We have read multiple media reports on your concern that thugs have been heavily mobilized to disrupt the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections. While we commend the honesty of the commission in its risk assessment report on the forthcoming elections, we must strongly urge the commission to be firm and unbiased in dealing with any form of electoral misconduct or violence by any of the political parties during the forthcoming elections.
“Finally, we would like to urge the commission to stay true to its promise that Internally Displaced Persons will not be disenfranchised during elections in Nigeria.
“To engender inclusiveness in the electoral process, it is important that the IDPs in Kogi and Bayelsa States are allowed to vote in the forthcoming governorship elections”, he added.