The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has debunked reports that its Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Edo State, Dr Johnson Alalibo Sinikeim was arrested and detained by the police in connection with recent primaries conducted by a political party in the state.
It said the REC as clarified in a statement issued by the Edo Police State Command, was only invited to explain some technical issues regarding some of its operations, and was neither detained nor under any form of investigation.
It however, condemned the police invitation of the REC, stating that another INEC official assigned by the REC could have provided such insight or a visit by the commissioner of police or his representative could have achieved the same goal.
It pointed out that such police action amounted to intimidation and harrasment of the official, and warned that any action capable of creating impression of infringement of the right of independence of the commission must be avoided, especially as the Nigeria approaches the 2023 General Election.
The statement signed by the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Fetus Okoye, reads:
“The attention of the commission has been drawn to media reports that our Resident Electoral Commissioner for Edo State Police Command was invited and detained by the Edo State Police Command yesterday 28th July 2022 in connection with matters arising from the recent primaries conducted by a political party in the State.
“The Commission can confirm that the REC was invited. However, the Edo State Police command has issued a statement to clarify the situation, saying that the REC was only invited to provide insight into some technical issues regarding our processes and nothing more. He was neither detained nor is he personally under investigation as media reports suggested.
“While we welcome the clarification by the Police Command, we wish to point out that any other official of the Commission assigned by the REC could have provIded the required insight. Alternatively, a visit to our State Office by the Commissioner of Police or his assigned representative could have achieved the same goal as has been
the tradition in our collaborative relationship with security agencies.
“For emphasis, our REC in Edo State, Dr Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, is a conscientious public officer and Co-chairman ot the lnter-Agency Consultative committee on Election Security (CCES) at State level. He was the siting REC when the last Governorship election was conducted in Edo State on 19th September 2020 which was adjudged to be free, fair and credible.
“Any action capable or creating the impression ot harassment or our officials or infringement of the independence of the Commission must be avoided, especially at this critical period of our preparations for the 2023 General Election,” Okoye stated.