Civil society groups and accredited election observers yesterday condemned the call for postponement of Saturday’s polls, describing it as an executive interference.
The Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwankwo, made the condemnation on behalf of the coalition.
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, comprising more than 70 organisations, said in a statement that the plot undermined the public’s confidence on the security agencies.
The coalition stated they were in Benin City to observe the election and expressed disappointment at the security alarm.
It said the inability of security agencies to take charge and provide security to citizens and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) portends danger to democracy.
“The present situation appears contrived and threatens to truncate the democratic process in Nigeria,” the group warned.
The statement read: “Situation Room expresses disappointment at the reports that the Nigeria Police and Directorate of State Security (DSS) have advised INEC to postpone the election. It considers the advice as a gratuitous and unconstitutional interference in the independence of INEC.
“The advice is a clear violation of Section160 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which forbids any person or authority from giving directives or seeking to control INEC, being an independent body.
According to the statement: “It is surprising that the police and DSS, who are part of the INEC’s Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Elections Security (ICCES), did not formally brief the commission before issuing the contentious statement.”
“INEC now faces a more challenging task of assuring all parties that a revised election can be properly organised within a constitutionally stipulated time-frame,” it noted.
Nwankwo urged the security agencies to be mindful of their roles and limitations within the elections and the inter-agency co-ordination arrangements.
It continued: “Additionally, the huge material resources committed to the preparations by the INEC, CSOS and other stakeholders, appear to have been flushed down the drain by the action.
“Situation Room believes that INEC has the Constitutional powers to proceed with its plans to conduct the polls as scheduled.”
The coalition urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the security agents to order and support the INEC to deliver on its mandate of conducting free and fair elections as scheduled.
It implores the commission to be guided by the provisions of the Electoral Act in relation to postponement of elections, which states that all reasons must be cogent and verifiable.
The group called on Edo people to remain calm and vigilant and be ready to protect their constitutional rights to vote.