…Vows not to allow underage voters in Ekiti
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Kogi State has explained why Governor Yahaya Bello was issued with another Temporary Voter Card (TVC), in Okene, last Friday.
This is even as the electoral body has vowed not to allow underage voting during the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State.
In a statement made available to newsmen on Monday, the electoral umpire noted that the governor formally applied for the transfer of his PVC from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory to Okene Local Government, on the 26th of January, this year, through the electoral officer for Okene.
The statement, which was signed by INEC’s Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity, Ahmed Biambo, further stated that the commission acted in accordance with electoral act and guidelines.
It stressed that in granting the approval, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state acted in accordance with the provision of the law and was guided by INEC guidelines as well as procedures for such transfers.
The statement maintained that the electoral umpire did not make any preference or favour in granting the request to Bello, even as it pointed out that its response was based on the controversy that had trailed the matter.
It would be recalled that in May last year, the commission had accused the governor of double registration, after claiming that he allegedly registered at the Government House, Lokoja aside the earlier exercise the governor participated in at Wuse, Abuja in 2011, vowing to prosecute him upon the completion of his tenure.
Two officials of the commission indicted over the matter were dismissed, while another one was compulsorily retired, a development that generated fresh controversy, even as Governor Bello insisted that his ghost might have embarked on the double registration since he was not in the country when the action took place.
Speaking on the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State, INEC assured that cases of underage voting won’t be allowed during the July 14 governorship election in the state.
The commission clarified that the electoral body did not allow such tendency during registration exercises that had been undertaken in Ekiti since inception, assuring that such won’t be witnessed in the actual election.
The commission also regretted that about 215,000 Permanent Voter Cards are yet to be claimed by owners few months to election in spite of its sensitisation and campaign programmes.
Speaking with newsmen in Ado Ekiti on Monday, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Prof Abdulganiy Raji, said the body won’t allow any sharp practice, including underage voting that can vitiate the electoral process during the poll.
Raji spoke based on controversies that raged over the just concluded Kano local government elections, where some under aged voters were allegedly found to have voted.
He said: “From inception, we have not accepted such tendency here in Ekiti and we won’t tolerate it. Election is a serious matter that has to do with people’s sovereignty that must not be abridged in any form.
“So, we are assuring you that the Ekiti governorship election will meet international standard. We will improve on our outstanding past records to the extent that all the political parties and stakeholders will have cause to commend us.”
He said the state has been partnering traditional rulers, religious organisations, political parties and the media to increase the political awareness of the electorate in Ekiti.
“We have done a lot of jingles and also working with all our outfits in the 16 local governments for voter education, but despite that our people seem to be showing apathy. As we speak now, we have about 215,000 PVCs with us that are yet to be claimed.
“We are hopeful that all these will be collected before that election, because our aim is to ensure that we have high turnout during that election like we witnessed in July 21, 2014”.
Speaking on the preparedness of the electoral body for the governorship election, the INEC boss said: “Yes, we are working with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) where we will draw our ad hoc staff from.
“We have started training them and engaging them in election seminars, so that they can be well educated about the conduct of elections.
“We have started road training for our staff here in INEC and we are awaiting instructions from our national headquarters to lift ban on electioneering campaigns, so that we can increase our work rate here in our office,” he stated.