…Insists 2019 elections will be difficult to rig
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disassociated itself from the current videos and pictures in the social media platforms, showing under-aged persons thumb-printing ballot papers and voting in an election.
This is even as the Imo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu, has said the 2019 elections would be difficult to rig as all results from the polling units would be transmitted electronically to the collation centre.
INEC made the clarification in a statement signed by its Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi in Abuja on Tuesday.
Osaze-Uzzi said the images which have gone viral did not relate in any way to any election organised, conducted or superintended by the commission.
The director said the commission could not be held directly or vicariously liable for an exercise outside its legal purview.
“It should be pointed out here that local government elections are exclusively the responsibility of the respective State Electoral Commissions, who are in no way under the control and supervision of INEC.
“As far as the commission is concerned, they relate to a local government election conducted at the weekend, over which INEC has no legal control or responsibility whatsoever,” he stated.
Osaze-Uzzi restated the commitment of INEC to sanitising the electoral process of the country.
“The commission remains resolute in its commitment to sanitise the nation’s electoral process and deliver free, fair and credible elections,” he said.
The director said INEC was doing all it could to ensure a credible register of voters.
He said that in addition to running the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), the commission would employ its business process rules to weed out unlawful entries.
He said INEC was aware of the challenges encountered in some quarters by prospective registrants in the ongoing nation-wide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
Osaze-Uzzi said steps had been taken to ameliorate the situation through the acquisition and deployment of new Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines for registration.
The director said the commission had also increased the number of registration centres in the affected areas.
He appealed to those who did not register in the previous registration exercises to do so now.
He gave the assurance that the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) of those who registered in 2017 would be ready for collection in May 2018.
Speaking on plans to make the 2019 elections credible, the Imo State REC, Ezeonu, advised politicians to reach out to electorates to register and collect their PVCs.
Prof Ezeonu said this, when the leadership of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists Imo State council paid him a courtesy visit.
He further expressed worry that 370,000 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCS) were yet be collected by the owners who had registered between 2011 and 2014 during the voters’ registration exercise.
He said, “As I speak now, we still have about 379,000 PVCs that are yet to be collected by the owners who had done their registration between 2011 and 2014 and as a result the commission has to take the PVCs to the various wards across the state and paste the names of those who own it to come forward and collect them.
“Following the public enlightenment embarked by the commission across the 27 area council of the state many prospective voters who had attained the voting age and those who had never registered before are now coming out in their large numbers to register for the 2019 general elections.
“Again we discovered that many people are not coming out to register, and to ensure that those who have attained the voting age come to register for the 2019 general elections and for subsequent elections we decided to embark on enlightenment campaign to the council areas of the state to educate the people on the importance of registering for the 2019 and for other future elections. Since then we have witnessed very impressive turn outs at the various
wards which is a good thing.
“Why we had to do that is to remove the apathy among people who see it as a waste of time to register because they will tell you that whether they vote or not that the winners are already known and we have told them that it is not going to be that way in 2019 and that the only way they can vote who they want is by having a voters’ card, by registering to vote.
“Politicians who want to win in 2019 should work hard to convince the electorate as it is now very difficult to rig elections.
“The era of cloning of PVCs and giving same to their agents to go and vote with it is over, as no one could vote without the card reader which would determine the true owner of the PVCs.”