. Wants INEC, security agencies to be nuetral
By Steve Oko
THE British Government has expressed concern over the 2019 general elections in Nigeria.
Britain which said it was fully committed to the success of the polls as well as Nigeria’s democracy, noted with cancern, allegations by the opposition that the ruling party is using the instruments of state against them.
Deputy British High Commissioner, Harriet Thompson, said “Nigeria remains a key partner” of the United Kingdom, hence, the UK could not sit back and watch the Nigerian democracy crumble.
The diplomat who spoke in Umuahia, Abia State when she led a delegation from the British High Commission, Abuja, to interact with the Abia State Police Commissioner, Chris Ezike, pledged full British support for the 2019 poll.
“We want Nigeria’s democracy to succeed because Nigeria is our strategic partner. We are consulting with the key stakeholders to ensure the success of the general elections next year”, she said.
The Deputy High Commissioner, said Britain would not interfere in the 2019 polls, but would rather partner the key players to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
Britain, therefore, tasked the Nigerian Government, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as well as the security agencies to ensure that equal opportunity is given to all participants at the poll.
“Government, INEC and security agencies must see that free, fair, credible and violent-free election is conducted”, she said.
Britain promised to keep engaging the INEC and security agencies on allegations of intimidstions against them by the opposition.
“British Government is desirous of seeing Nigeria conduct credible elections.
“We are working closely with INEC. We will take them up on any allegation by the opposition. It is critical for INEC to provide an enabling environment for a free and fair election.’’
Responding, the Abia Commissioner of Police, Ezike, restated the readiness of the police to ensure a peaceful and credible poll in the state come 2019.
He noted that the success of the 2019 polls, “is critical ” to Nigeria’s growth and economic survival.
Ezike also promised to provide equally opportunity to all political parties and candidates in the state, adding that no two different parties or candidates will be allowed to campaign in the same environment on the same day.
The police boss who identified shortage of personnel as the major challenge of the force in Abia State but assured of adequate protection for all candidates for the election.
He said that a recent threat analysis indicated that Abia had no history of electoral violence, but added that police would partner with other security agencies to ensure the protection of lives and property of residents “before, during and after ” the polls.
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