History was made yesterday in Yenagoa, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all the 45 political parties that nominated candidates for next weekend’s Bayelsa election, signed a peace accord.
In attendance to witness the epoch-making event include Chairman, Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, Diete-Spiff, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Adamu Abubakar, the Director General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig-General Ibrahim Shauibu and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from Adamawa, Anambra, Delta, National Commissioners Festus Okoye, Okey Ibeanu, representatives of Nigeria Immigration Services, Nigerian Correctional Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps among many other stakeholders.
In his brief remarks, commission’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, reassured the readiness of the commission for the poll and pleaded with stakeholders to cooperate with the commission.
Delivering her speech, National Commissioner in charge of Bayelsa and chairman, Legal Services committee, May Agbamuche read the riot act, warning that vote buyers, ballot box snatchers risk heavy imprisonment of 12 months and/or N1 million fine.
He said: “Another very disturbing trend is the use of hate speech and provocative language during political campaigns. This is unacceptable and is an electoral offence under section 95 ( l ) and (2) of the Electoral Act.
“It is unethical to use language or words that will incite violence in the name of politics, as is character assassination equally destructive and damaging to the very core of our society.
“Stakeholders should rise against this and bring it to an end. With social media, hate speech has plunged to ever greater depths.
“A person who contravenes this provision commits an offencc and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of Nl,000,0000.00 or 12 months imprisonment. For a political party, a fine of N2,000,000.00 will be levied in the first instance and Nl,000,000.00 for any subsequent offence.
“We must here also highlight that it is an offence under section 23 (l)(a) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) for a person to be in possession of a voter’s card that is not bearing his or her name unless he can legally justify why he is in possession of such a card.
“There are certain election day offences which I must additionally draw your attention to which are unacceptable within a distance of 300 metres of a polling unit on Election Day.
“These are canvassing & soliciting for votes, persuading any voter not to vote for any particular candidate, loitering around a polling unit or being in possession of any offensive weapon. A person who commits any of these of the above stated offences is liable on conviction to a fine of N1000,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of six months. “
Stressing the readiness of the commission, INEC boss, said: “The Commission has also delivered all non-sensitive materials to our office here in Yenagoa long ago. They have all been sorted out, categorized and batched, ready to be delivered to the LGAs, Wards and polling units. The sensitive materials are also ready and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is delivering them to Bayelsa State this weekend.”
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