Tuesday, January 15, 2019 3:14 pm
Clerics in Kogi on Tuesday urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the outcome of the forthcoming general elections reflected the wishes of the electorate.
They made the call in Lokoja on Tuesday at an interactive session involving religious leaders and top officials of INEC.
The Chairman of the Jamatul Nasril Islam (JNI) in Kogi, Alhaji Usman Bello, said INEC must dispense justice to all candidates irrespective of their religious and ethnic affiliations.
Bello further urged the electoral body to be honest and impartial in the conduct of the elections which he described as very critical to the country.
He also called on INEC officials to do what is right to prevent chaos while politicians should refrain from heating up the polity through unguarded utterances.
The Vice Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state, Senior Apostle Isaac Okheme, clarified that the association had not adopted any of the candidates participating in the elections.
He, however, said that CAN expected INEC to conduct credible, free and fair elections to make the outcome acceptable.
Okheme also called on INEC and security agencies to ensure the protection of voters, electoral officers and election materials as part of efforts to have rancour-free elections.
Pastor Alfred Owoyemi, the Chairman of CAN’s Youth Wing, warned against over deployment of security agents for the elections to avoid poor turnout of voters.
He said political parties and their leaders must be held accountable for the misconduct of their members and followers.
Other speakers at the parley called for timely payment of ad hoc staff to prevent unscrupulous politicians from inducing them.
Earlier in his speech, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. James Apam, had raised the alarm that the state was prone to violence, according to the News Agency of Nigetia, NAN.
He solicited the assistance of the religious leaders to help nip in the bud the looming violence while also prevailing on their followers to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.
Apam also pleaded with the religious leaders to help in mobilising voters to come out for the elections, saying that experience had shown that some politicians often take advantage of poor turnout to perpetrate electoral fraud.
He argued that poverty should not be a reason for vote hawking, calling on the religious leaders to campaign against vote hawking and buying in their daily sermons.
Members of the Janayul Nasir Islam, Council of Ulamahs, CAN and top clerics attended the interactive session.