The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Thursday ruled out the possibility of engaging the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its militia arm, Eastern Security Network (ESN), ahead of the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission will not “go out of its way to engage with an organisation that had been declared as illegal by the Federal Government.
Okoye, who stated these when he featured in a programme on Arise TV, said INEC would only engage the political parties, people of the state, civil society organizations, traditional institutions, and clerics on the election.
There have been growing concerns over the safety of voters as the election draws near.
The INEC spokesman said: “For the security agencies, we have had meetings with them at both the national level and also at the state and local government levels.
“We have also interacted and interfaced with the leadership of the various political parties and the consensus is that everything possible should be done to make sure that the elections are scheduled.
“Constitutionally and legally, the mandate and remit of INEC are to organize, undertake, and supervise elections. The issue of national security is left for the security agencies and the Nigerian Police Force is the lead agency in terms of election security.
“We are engaging with all the critical stakeholders. We are engaging with civil society groups and organisations, and we are engaging with traditional rulers. Within the commission’s realm, we recognize the political parties, we recognize the people of Anambra State, we recognize civil society organizations, we recognize the traditional institutions and the clergy, so if they are part of civil society groups and organizations and they attend our program we will tell them.
“In terms of IPOB, the commission will not go out of its way to go and engage with an organisation that the Federal Government has declared as illegal so we won’t do that. But the civil society group and organizations that want to attend our programme, are welcome.”