The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has finally announced the postponement of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo by two weeks.
Solomon Soyebi, INEC national Commissioner in-charge of voter education and publicity, made the disclosure at a press conference at the commission’s office in Benin on Thursday.
Mr. Soyebi said the election would now hold on September 28, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
He attributed the postponement to alleged security threat as reported by security agencies.
The electoral commission had earlier on Thursday rejected the call for postponement by the police and the State Security Service, SSS. The commission had said it would not be “teleguided”, and argued that suspending the polls would be costly after reaching at least 97 per cent readiness level.
Hours after making that announcement, the commission backtracked and said it agreed to postpone the elections based on the security concerns cited by the police and the SSS.
The main opposition party, PDP, and its leaders have been very vocal in condemning the postponement of an election expected to be closely fought.
PDP, Fayose react
The PDP condemned the postponement and described it as “a coup against the people of Edo State.”
The opposition party said changing the date “was a less than ingenious attempt to ‘buy time’ for the governing All Progressives Congress, APC”.
“It is shameful and indeed a major constitutional breach for the security agencies to act in concert with the APC to truncate an Election that had been planned for months,” the party said in a statement signed by Dayo Adeyeye, its interim spokesperson.
“Nigerians were not deceived by the obvious concoctions of the security agencies whose performances during elections have been less than average since the advent of the Buhari Administration.
“The postponement of the Election by INEC is illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the peoples’ trust in the Commission and the security agencies.
“It is a coup against the people of Edo State in particular and Nigerians in general. Since APC assumed power, virtually all elections conducted by INEC have either been inconclusive or truncated.”
In his reaction, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose described the postponement as “beginning of the end for democracy in Nigeria.”
“It is obvious that the All Progressives Congress (APC) feared that it can’t win the election and is ready to employ whatever crude means to subvert the wish of the people,” he said.
“How can you postpone an election less than 48 hours to the scheduled date? What manner of security concern could prevent an election in just one state when elections were held in Northeast States that are confronted by Boko Haram insurgents?” the Ekiti governor said.
The ruling APC in Edo, which had accused the PDP of plotting to import armed persons to cause havoc during the elections, did not condemn the postponement as at the time of this report.