Following the reported outbreak of violence in the Rivers rerun elections, a former National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Lai Olurode, has urged the electoral commission to disown the result of any of the legislative elections characterised by violence.
Olurode, who was the chairman, INEC’s Board of Electoral Institute, said this in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Tuesday.
He condemned what he described as divisive utterances of some politicians, especially those based in Abuja, saying the utterances were capable of inflaming passion.
The Professor of Sociology said, “Once an electoral environment is chaotic, preference aggregation becomes endangered because the truth-seeking nature of compromised.
“The result you get from such an election pyrrhic victory. What should INEC do in a circumstance where unscrupulous stakeholders imperil democracy? INEC should disown and condemn the result of such an election. Heaven will not fall if INEC does so.
“Once a return has been made, INEC cannot cancel the election, but it can disown and condemn such an election. It is only a court that can cancel an election once return has been made.
“INEC must not defend an election at all cost; it is an umpire and must be seen as independent and impartial.”
Recalling that Rivers State had been a hotbed of electoral violence, Olurode said he and three other national commissioners of INEC were asked by the former INEC National Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to go and intervene in Rivers during the presidential election of 2015 “when there was news they couldn’t make return in some places”.
The former Dean, Faculty of Social Science, University of Lagos, said, “When you say if they slap you, slap them; if they push you, push them, what are you calling for? In the Gaya constituency of Kano State, INEC disowned the election in 2013 because of violence.”
He also recalled that the election result for the House of Representatives seat in the Ilaje Ese-Odo federal constituency could not be declared in 2012 because the commission could not make a return.