THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Friday, warned security agencies against harassing its officials as the 2023 general elections draw closer.
The commission gave the warning following the invitation of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Edo State, Dr Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, by the Edo State Police Command on Thursday.
Sinikiem was reportedly invited by the police in connection with matters arising from the recent primaries conducted by a political party in the State.
Reacting, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye in a statement on Friday confirmed that the Edo REC was invited but was neither detained nor is he personally under investigation as reports suggested.
“However, the Edo State Police Command has issued a statement to clarify the situation, saying that the REC was only invited to provide insight into some technical issues regarding our processes and nothing more. He was neither detained nor is he personally under investigation as media reports suggested”, Okoye stated
Okoye stated while the commission welcome the clarification by the Police Command, any other official of the Commission assigned by the REC could have provided the required insight needed by the police.
He added: “Alternatively, a visit to our State Office by the Commissioner of Police or his assigned representative could have achieved the same goal as has been the tradition in our collaborative relationship with security agencies.
“For emphasis, our REC in Edo State, Dr Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, is a conscientious public officer and co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) at State level. He was the sitting REC when the last Governorship election was conducted in Edo State on 19th September 2020 which was adjudged to be free, fair and credible”.
“Any action capable of creating the impression of harassment of our officials or infringement of the independence of the Commission must be avoided, especially at this critical period of our preparations for the 2023 General Election.”
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