INEC warns against vote-buying as 12 jostle to replace Gbajabiamila

The Independent National Electoral Commission in Lagos State says 12 candidates of different political parties will be contesting the February 3 House of Representatives by-election for the Surulere Federal Constituency of Lagos State.

The  Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Ayobami Salami, who disclosed this on Thursday at a  meeting with the leadership of political parties, said the commission was committed to conducting a credible poll and warned against all forms of malpractices, including vote-buying.

President Bola Tinubu’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, was the representative of the constituency until his appointment by the President.

Consequently, INEC is set to conduct an election to replace him.

Speaking on Thursday, the REC said, “The commission is required by law to conduct a by-election in Surulere Federal Constituency 1 to fill the vacancy arising from the resignation of  Gbajabiamila.

“It is important to inform us that this category of election belongs to the class of by-elections, which are also fresh elections.

“To this end, it goes without saying that political parties must conduct fresh primaries within the timeframe provided by the enabling instruments to elect their candidates.

“In tandem with the provisions of the enabling instruments, the following electoral activities have been undertaken so far,  to ensure not only the smooth conduct of the process but also demonstrate its fairness and transparency.

 “Notice of election was given on  January 4,  while party primaries to elect candidates held from January 5 to January 9.

“List of 14 political parties was forwarded from the national headquarters to partake in the process but only 12 political parties eventually participated and  have been submitted to the national headquarters for publication.”

He gave the names of the 12 candidates to participate in the election as Akinyemi Da-Sliva (Accord); Kayode Jelili (Action Alliance); Collins Aigbokhaode (African Democratic Congress); Fuad Laguda (All Progressives Congress); Jonathan Ololade (All Progressives Grand Alliance); and Samuel Ekwuruke (Allied People’s Movement).

Others are Yinusa Adisa (Action People’s Party); Adeola Adebanjo (Labour Party); Jerry Afemighie (Peoples Democratic Party); Muyiwa Adedeji (Social Democratic Party); Oluwole Austine Brito (Young Progressive Party); and Emereole Anthony (Zenith Labour Party).

The REC said the recruitment and training of ad hoc officials to be used for the election were ongoing.

“These ad hoc staff consist of serving corps members and INEC officials. The non-sensitive materials meant for the election have been arranged, while we await the delivery of sensitive materials.

“I want to assure all stakeholders that on our part, we are going to adhere strictly to our guiding principles and bring to bear, our core values with a view to ensuring that we midwife a process, devoid of any rancour or acrimony.

“Being a double-edged game, the commission will also profoundly appreciate that the stakeholders play the game according to the established rules. The idea of ballot snatching, vote-buying and thuggery should be jettisoned.

“Let us strive together to allow our democracy to grow and stand the test of time,” Salami said.

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