By Simeon OSAJIE
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has emphasised that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Edo State, Dr. Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem was only invited by the Edo State Police Command over a petition credited to the Edo State Chairman of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Tony Aziegbemi.
In the petition dated 20th July, 2022, and addressed to the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Aziegbemi said: “I write this petition in my capacity as the State Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (thereinafter referred to as the PDP) against Dr. Johnson Alaibo Sinikiem, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Edo State.”
In a press statement issued and signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye Esq. said the Edo REC was only invited to provide insight into some technical issues regarding INEC processes and nothing more. He was neither detained nor is he personally under investigation as reported.
Part of the statement reads, “The attention of the Commission has been drawn to media reports that our Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Edo State, Dr. Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, 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 of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) at State level. He was the sitting 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 of creating the impression of harassment of 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,” the statement opined.