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HomeNIGERIAINEC counts loses as attacks on its offices persist

INEC counts loses as attacks on its offices persist

…says 1,993 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles, others lost

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has described as “troubling” the series of attacks on its facilities and destruction of critical electoral assets in some parts of the country.

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said in the last four months, five Local Government Area offices of the commission were attacked by unknown persons.

Yakubu spoke in Lagos at an Induction Retreat for New Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECS, on Wednesday.

“Buildings have been destroyed and materials lost in Udenu and Igboeze North Local Areas of Enugu State, Abeokuta South Local Government of Ogun State, Ede South Local Government Area of Osun State and, most recently, in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

“In these mindless attacks, a total of 1,993 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles, 22 electric power generators and thousand of uncollected PVCs were, among other materials, destroyed. These attacks must stop and the perpetrators apprehended and prosecuted,” he said.

The INEC chairman however reassured Nigerians that the commission will recover from these attacks, adding that the lost materials will be replaced but there is a limit to INEC’s ability to keep replacing wantonly destroyed materials with just 86 days to the general election.

He tasked security agencies, traditional and community leaders and all well-meaning Nigerians on continued support to the commission to stop the attacks, stressing that “the ultimate solution is arrest and prosecution so that vandals and arsonists do not feel that bad behaviour is an acceptable conduct in our country.”

While noting that the retreat came on the eve of the 2023 general election which is just 86 days away, he said among the 19 RECs sworn-in four weeks ago on 3rd November 2022, 14 are new appointees, holding office for the first time.

“It is therefore imperative for them to familiarise themselves with the Commission and its processes and procedures as a matter of utmost urgency,” he said.

On the preparation for the election, he already, some sensitive and non-senstive materials have been delivered to states ahead of the general election.

According to him, the retreat was deliberately structured to introduce the RECS to the electoral legal framework as well as the processes and procedures for election administration that is increasingly driven by technology from voter registration, voter accreditation and uploading of polling unit level results on election day.

“The retreat will also dwell on the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), guidelines for voter distribution to Polling Units, the framework for electoral logistics and Code of Conduct for Commission members, officials and staff.

“Let me therefore reiterate what I recently told you at your swearing-in as Resident Electoral Commissioners. Our success ultimately depends on our integrity. We should remain independent and impartial. As I said on many occasions, the Commission is not a political party. It has no candidates in the forthcoming election,”he said.

Yakubu reiterated that all political parties have equal standing before the commission, adding that the choice belongs to the electorate as its responsibility is to uphold the sanctitiy of the ballot – nothing more nothing less.

He dismissed the misleading statement shared online that voters can vote on election day without the voter’s card.

“This is absolutely incorrect. For any person to vote in any election organised by the Commission, he/she must be a registered voter issued with a PVC. The Commission has consistently maintained the policy of “no PVC, no voting”.

“Nothing has changed. It is a legal requirement and doing otherwise will be a violation of the law. I appeal to Nigerians to ignore any suggestion to the contrary. For the avoidance of doubt, Section 47(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that “a person intending to vote in an election shall present himself with his voter’s card to a Presiding Officer for accreditation at the Polling Unit in the constituency in which his name is registered”.

“Therefore, the position of the law is clear. The PVC remains a mandatory requirement for voting during elections,” he said.

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