The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has accused the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of putting the lives of its staff in danger.
The PDP and the electoral umpire have been trading accusations and counter accusations on alleged plans to rig the 2019 elections.
The PDP had yesterday alleged that the move by INEC to create polling centers in Internally Displaced Persons’, IDPs, camps in the northern part of the country was a plot hatched by the All Progressives Congress, APC, in connivance with INEC to rig the general elections.
In reaction to the claim, INEC described it as hate speech capable of putting its permanent and ad hoc staff at risk during the elections.
Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, Rotimi Oyekanmi, told Vanguard that the allegation by the PDP amounts to some form of hate speech.
He said, “I find it distasteful that Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan can deliberately embark on peddling complete falsehood about the Independent National Electoral Commission in this manner, with the sole intent of discrediting all the good efforts being put in place to ensure credible 2019 general elections.
“The story about the possibility of so called Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) located in Chad and Niger republic voting in the 2019 general elections was as a result of a misrepresentation of facts by a newspaper in its story on the Validation Conference in respect of the Framework for Voting for Internally Displaced Persons, held on12th December in Abuja, for which the Commission had to promptly issue a rebuttal.
“Everybody knows that displaced persons living in foreign countries cannot be regarded as IDPs but refugees and there is no provision in our laws for any Nigerian living outside Nigeria to vote during the 2019 general elections.
“But Kola Ologbondiyan has continued to insist that the Commission is planning to establish 30,000 polling units and give the so-called IDPs in foreign countries the opportunity to vote in the general elections.
“What this man is doing, by implication, is to put the lives of INEC permanent and adhoc staff, especially the young National Youth Service Corps members at risk during the 2019 general elections with his continuous portrayal of the Commission as untrustworthy and fraudulent.
“This is not what Nigerians need at this time. This is certainly not the way to be an excellent spokesperson.
“INEC is not a political party. The Commission is not planning to establish any new polling units anywhere. Our only interest is to conduct free, fair and credible general elections in 2019 and we require the cooperation of all stakeholders, including political parties, to achieve this objective.
“My strong advice to Kola Ologbodiyan is that he should stop what I can safely describe as hate speech against INEC, for the good of the country and democracy.”