From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has condemned, in strong terms, the invitation of its Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, by the State’s police Command.

INEC also warned that any action capable of creating the impression of harassment of its officials or infringement of the independence of the commission must be avoided, especially ahead of the 2023 general election.

The commission, in a statement signed by National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, argued that the police authority would have visited its State office instead of inviting the Commissioner.

“The attention of the Commission has been drawn to media reports that our REC for Edo State, Sinikiem, was invited and detained by the Edo State Police Command on Thursday, July 28, 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,” the commission explained.

Condemning the invitation, the commission noted: “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 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 September 19, 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 read.

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Source: news