INEC Seeks To Curb Vote Buying

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised to curb vote-buying in future elections.

It added that politicians in Ekiti State developed several clever means to buy votes in last weekend’s governorship election in the state.

However, the commission commended the security agents for responding to reports sent to them during the election.

The National Commissioner of INEC, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, told journalists in Bénin City, Edo State, that the commission was taking the issue of vote buying seriously.

May, who is also the Chairperson of INEC Legal Services Committee, said the electoral body was already considering ways to curb vote buying during elections.

She said adequate enlightenment and education of the electorates should be carried out to make them understand the need to make their vote counts and not about money.

She said the Osun State governorship poll would be better because of the state are more “sophisticated than that of Ekiti.”

She said: “INEC is taking issue of vote buying very seriously. I am just coming as part of the Supervising National Commissioner for Ekiti and these things occur.

“We are having another conference on electoral offences. Vote buying is another electoral offence and we are looking at ways to curb it. Politicians keep trying their best. Politicians were clever in Ekiti. They have ingenious ways to sort themselves out. We will go back and review it and see how we can stop vote buying with the best of our ability.”

BREAKING: INEC Declares Kayode Fayemi Winner Of Ekiti Governorship Election

Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Kayode Fayemi, has won the Ekiti State governorship election.

Fayemi defeated current Deputy Governor of the state and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Kolapo Olusola, and over 30 others in a keenly contested election.

He was victorious in 11 out of the 16 local government areas of the state, polling 197,459 votes, and edging out his closest rival Olusola who got 178,121 votes by 19,338 votes.

Based on the votes secured, INEC’s Chief Returning Officer for the election, Professor Idowu Olayinka, declared Fayemi the winner.

Saturday’s election was highly anticipated as it pitted both the APC and Fayemi against one of their biggest critics and a key member of the opposition.

The buildup to the election was filled with drama and heightened expectations but led to fears of violence, with more than 30,000 policemen eventually deployed to provide security.

It, however, started rather smoothly with electoral materials and officials getting to polling units visited by our correspondents on schedule.

In Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, there was a large turnout of voters and more than 60,000 people eventually voted there, the largest votes cast in a local government during the election.

Apart from reports now and then of card reader malfunction, one of the first issues to pop up was the allegations of cash inducements by observers and party agents.

A few hours into the start of the election, the police arrested some persons for allegedly distributing cash to voters.

By midday, both Fayemi and Olusola had suffered hitches at their polling units.
In the case of Fayemi, the card reader smoothly read his PVC enabling him to vote but it failed to read that of his wife and it took several attempts before she got to vote.

After voting, the former Ekiti governor told reporters he was confident of victory and that the day will be celebrated.

In the case of Olusola, the card reader failed to recognise his card when he tried to vote at his polling unit – Ofomofuru Hall, Ward 2, Okokuru in Ikere-Ekiti.

He only got accredited to vote after INEC National Commissioner, Anthonia Simbini, intervened.

Both candidates did not dwell on the hitch, however, with the focus more on voter inducement and intimidation.

The victory puts Mr Fayemi on course for a second term as governor of the state, an ambition he failed to achieve in 2014 when he was defeated by Governor Ayodele Fayose.

Fayemi had gone on to head the Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate of the APC’s Presidential Campaign for the 2015 election before becoming Minister of Mines and Steel Development.

Fayose, whose administration repeatedly accused Fayemi’s administration, was keen to ensure that his deputy succeeds him and that Ekiti remains under the leadership of the PDP.

When he came out to vote, the governor repeated his calls to supporters of the PDP to vote and protect their votes.

Although it was a close contest, Fayemi and the APC prevailed.

INEC Okays 119,973 Polling Units For 2019 Elections

Nigeria’s next general elections will be held in 119,973 polling units while results will be collated in 8,809 wards, the country’s electoral body chief has said.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the presidential election would hold on February 16, 2019, while governorship and state assembly Elections would be conducted on March 2, 2019.

President Muhammadu Buhari, 75, is standing for reelection and his All Progressives’ Congress may opt to return him unopposed.

His closest challengers are expected to be from the ranks of the leading opposition party People’s Democratic Party. Already, Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar has said he will run against Buhari.

A former governor of oil-rich Cross River State Donald Duke has also expressed his interest in the presidency.

Parties such as African Democratic Congress and Social Democratic Party have emerged in recent months and may field younger candidates.

With an estimate registered 80 million voters by February 2019 when the elections will start, INEC boss Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the commission has its work cut out for it.

“Elections are no longer seen as an event, but processes which begin much earlier than the election day,” Yakubu said at a meeting with the organised private sector in Lagos recently. “Numerous activities must begin well in advance leading to election day and beyond. Proper planning means that preparation for the next general election begins from the conclusion of the current election.”

“Realising this fact, the Commission began to prepare for the 2019 general elections with a review, formulation and validation of the Strategic Plan (SP), Strategic Programme of Action (SPA) and the Election Project Plan (EPP) covering the post-2015 five-year electoral cycle 2017-2021.”

He said this was done with the full participation of all stakeholders such as political parties, civil society organisations, the media and security agencies.

Defend Your Votes Against Ballot Box Snatchers – INEC Urges Voters

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmoud Yakubu, has urged Nigerians to protect their votes against ballot-snatching thugs during elections.

Speaking at a campus outreach organised by the electoral body in conjunction with the European Centre for Electoral Support in Lagos, Mr Yakubu said active citizen participation is the solution to security challenges during election.

“Nobody will take a gun where they know they will be challenged. But when people abandon polling units, it becomes easier for merchants of violence to disrupt the process,” Mr Yakubu said.

“We also have a system of merging with security agencies and although we discourage armed security men in the polling units, there are armed men outside the polling units to also beef up security in the polling units.”

INEC Calls For Fair Reportage

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner, Prof.Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, has urged the media to enhance democracy through fair reportage on women in politics.

Okoosi-Simbine made the call in Lokoja at the Training for Journalists and Media Executives on Gender-Sensitive Coverage organised by Centre for Democracy and Development with support from UN Women.

She said that adequate reporting of activities of women in politics would encourage participation of more women in the governance of the country.

She said that the media in any political system played a critical role in the political process, and that it would be right for Nigerian media to assist the course of achieving equality for all.

The national commissioner said that gains for women in one or two areas in politics notwithstanding, campaign of calumny and gender-based invectives in the political space still discouraged their participation.

“They believe that there is masculine domination of politics to the extent that men hold politics as a cult and pay lip service to women participation since double standards are maintained gender-wise.

“There is need for vigorous societal public enlightenment for party programmes that support women uplifting, their empowerment and their general acceptance in the public sphere.

“The equal participation of women and men in all aspects of public life is a key principle of democracy and women’s participation in politics is a major goal.

“The place of gender equality in democracy cannot be over emphasised,” she said.

Okoosi-Simbine said that while a reporter might not be directly discriminating against women, it was always important that the media practitioners wore a gender lens while reporting.

She said that women constituted 48 per cent of Nigeria’s voting population, but occupied only 5.8 per cent of the political offices in the country, and that this could be attributed to media reporting slants.

According to her, this was the case in 2015 when only eight female senators and 20 House of Representatives members were elected while only six females were elected as deputy governors.

Okoosi-Simbine said that the issues called for general societal public enlightenment to underscore that chauvinist and sexist views were politically incorrect.

Mr James Bigila, a representative of the United Nations Women, Nigeria, said that the media in the country and globally, were an important catalyst towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Bigila said that this was because the media could take gender issues out of the private realm and put them on the political agenda.

“As you all are aware, women are under-represented in Nigeria’s political space, and Nigeria has the lowest rate of women members of parliament in Africa.

“Consequently, special measures are required, over a period of time, to close the gap since the playing field for political contest is not level and women are most affected by this,” he said.

INEC Reacts To Court Order On Freezing Of Its Accounts

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reacted to the freezing of its accounts.

A Federal High Court in Abuja, last week, ordered the freezing of its accounts over a N34bn contract.

The Court also ordered the deduction of over N17 billion from the accounts of the electoral body in favour of one of its contractors, Beddings Holdings Ltd (BHL).

But the electoral umpire has assured there is no cause for alarm.

Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi told Thisday: “It will not affect the Ekiti governorship election”.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission has already taken steps to address the issue. The case is a recycled one. It is not new.

“But since it is now a matter before a Federal High Court, I would not want to comment further,” he said.

INEC had said that it would be making use of 10, 032 officials to conduct the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti state.

 

The commission also said provisionally the total number of registered voters that are expected to participate in the Ekiti governorship poll is 919, 513.

Ekiti 2018: INEC, EU Partner For Credible Election

8Nigerians that no individual or group would have room to truncate the poll.

The body said it was partnering with European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) for the training of staff that would be used for the
election to get acquainted with modern and digitalised electoral process using the Election Monitoring and Support Centre (EMSC) implementers workshop.

The electoral commission also disclosed that it was compulsory for the members of the National Youth Service Corps serving in Ekiti to serve as electoral officers in the election, describing the poll as a critical national assignment that was a statutory obligation of any corps member.

INEC also said some staff and students of some federal institutions in the state would be deployed to make up for the shortfall recorded in the number of NYSC required to conduct the election, saying this is not an attempt to vitiate or compromise the
integrity of the election.

Speaking at the Ekiti State EMSC Workshop organized for INEC staff in Ado Ekiti on Thursday, the National Commissioner in charge of Ekiti, Oyo and Osun States, Prince Adedeji Soyebi, commended ECES for taking
interest in those things that would boost the integrity of Nigeria’s elections.

“The EMSC is a programme specially conceived to give skills to staff of this commission. We have passed through many trainings but this is very special and important, so we appreciate the European Union for
this help”.

On the allegations by Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, that it was wrong to draw students of Federal University, Oye Ekiti to
conduct the election, Soyebi said: “I don’t need to join issues with them at this level because that is the standard practice anywhere.

“We want to draw them into the election to supplement the shortfall in the number of corps members to be used. We started this is 2011 and they have to be students and staff of federal universities”.

Soyebi said those accused of illegally purchasing Permanent Voter Cards(PVCs) from owners were wasting their time and resources, saying, “no one can vote for anybody by proxy, because we will test the
fingerprints”.

The INEC chief added that a more voter-friendly enhanced Smart Card Readers will be deployed for the conduct of Ekiti election.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti, Prof Abdulganiy Raji, assured that INEC will be neutral in the election.

Lending credence to the position maintained by Soyebi on the use of students as electoral officers, Raji said, “We needed 10,500
youth corps members and we have 6,500 in Ekiti as of now out which 1,500 will be discharged by July 7.

“With this, we need additional 5,500 staff and these we can only get through students and staff of federal schools. We are in the sixth week of training for them. They are being screened and trained to get the required skills.

“It is a compulsory exercise and they have to participate”, the REC stated.

The Director of ECES , Mr David Le Notre, praised the INEC for taking a giant step to rebrand the country’s electoral system.

Notre said the body would continue to lend support to Nigeria to overcome challenges impeding the conduct of credible poll that meets international standard, for Nigeria to join the league of nations with credible electoral system.

INEC Receives 111,302 PVCs, Distributes 20,779 in Katsina

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Katsina State Thursday said it has received 111,302 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from its national headquarters, Abuja for onward distribution to eligible voters in the state.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of the state, Alhaji Jibril Ibrahim Zarewa, who disclosed this to newsmen in Katsina shortly after the commission’s Youth Strategy Development Consultation meeting, said the distribution is for those who registered between April and December last year.

The Katsina State REC, however, said about 20,779 PVCs had been distributed to eligible voters across the state within 17 days, calling on those who have registered to visit the commission’s office and other designated centres for onward collection of their respective PVCs.

On his part, the INEC Head of Voter’s Education Muhammed Abani Takai said the consultation meeting will provide an opportunity to assess and analyse youth participation and engagement in the electoral process of the country.

He said: “The INEC youth strategy is to articulate and coordinate youth programmes, increase civil participation of youth in the electoral process in a manner that will be appealing to the youth and to create an inclusive, qualitative engagement of youth in the electoral process as well as to properly reposition the commission as a responsive and result driven public institution.”

Earlier, the state Coordinator of Not-Too-Young-To-Run Isamiala Bello lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill into law, stressing that the gesture will deepen democracy in Nigeria.

He admonished political parties in the country to implement the provisions of the law to create a space for young people to contribute meaningfully to the development of the nation’s electoral processes.

According to him, with the signing of the bill into law, President Buhari has demonstrated that he is a listening president and father who seeks for the betterment of the youths at heart.

“This law will deepen democracy and give all especially youths that constitute the bulk of the population of the country a sense of belonging. This law will give room for active participation of youths in politics, and it will also reduce the barrier between the young and the old.

“It will also make the political space more inclusive and dynamic as more young people will bring in their innovations,’’ the state coordinator said.

He reiterated that the group will continue to support the president’s programmes meant to better the lot of Nigerians by initiating programmes and policies that will complement the efforts of the state and federal governments.

INEC Strategises For 2019 General Elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has re-constituted its Election Monitoring and Support Centre (EMSC) Committee to ensure good planning and success of 2019 elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while inaugurating the committee, said their work was vital because of the need to constantly track planning mechanisms and activities put in place for the smooth conduct of the next general polls.

He said that good planning was key for a good election , while proper monitoring of the plans put in place “will limit the areas of difficulty” during elections.

Yakubu said that the Commission performed well in the Ibarapa East State Constituency bye-election held in Oyo State on June 2 due to proper planning and tracking.

“Oyo bye-election was good. The processes were great and things went on smoothly.”

Yakubu said that for the 2019 general elections to be successful, the Commission also needed to constantly track all levels of its preparations to ensure that everything goes according to plan.

Yakubu implored the committee not to forget the two governorship elections holding in Ekiti State on July 14 and in Osun State on September 22.

He also reminded the committee members that the Commission still has about five bye-elections to conduct in five states, including Katsina, Taraba, Bauchi and Cross River.

He warned against complacency, saying he would be prepared to wield the big stick against any “sleeping member” of the committee.

“I will personally be tracking your activities”, the INEC boss stated.

“The Committee’s Terms of Reference include establishing an operational framework for EMSC Secretariat at both headquarters and state offices to be fully functional for implementation, monitoring and support mechanisms for the 2019 general elections.

“Developing an operational framework for EMSC Secretariat platform including, securing fully operational platform resources, dashboard analytics, mobile apps support as well as data collection, reporting and communication tool.

“Developing operational manuals, facilitators’ guides and other relevant training materials for the effective functioning of the EMSC.

“Organising and conducting various levels of training at headquarters and in state offices for the effective implementation of the EMSC Work Plan.

“As well as implementing the EMSC Work Plan as approved by the Commission and carry out any other activities related to 2019 General Elections as may be assigned by the Commission from time to time,” he said.

The 16-member Committee includes: Special Adviser to the Chairman, Prof Mohammad Kuna as Chairman; Chief Technical Adviser to the Chairman, Prof. Bolade Eyinla; Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi; Director, Planning and Monitoring, Mr Okechukwu Ndeche and Director, Electoral Operations, Mr Abdulrazak Yusuf.

Others include Director of ICT, Mr Chidi Nwafor; Director, Voter Registry, Engineer Iro Gambo; Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Oluwole Osase-Uzzi; Director, Estate, Works and Transport, Ruth Endeley; Deputy Director (Election Management) and Mr Chima Duruaku.

Ekiti Guber: INEC Releases Full List Of Governorship Candidates

The Independent National Electoral Commission Election (INEC) has released the full list of all the aspirants that will participate in the Ekiti State governorship election.

The shortlisted candidates emerged from their party’s primaries held ahead of the July 14 gubernatorial election.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), while the present deputy governor of the state, Professor Kolapo Olusola, will represent the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the election.

See the full list below:

INEC Director, Secretary Docked For Money Laundering

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Wednesday arraigned two former senior staff of the Enugu State office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Amadi Simon, a former deputy director and Nathan Owhor Oviri, an administrative secretary before Justice A.M. Liman of the Federal High Court, Enugu on a 16-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering.

The officials are alleged to have laundered One Hundred and Thirty One Million, Three Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira (N131, 380,000) contrary to Section 18 (a) and 1 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act,2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2012.

Their arraignment was sequel to roles they allegedly played in the disbursements of 2015 presidential election campaign funds to some INEC Staff in Enugu State from the $115m provided by Diezani Alison-Madueke , former minister of petroleum resources, to influence the outcome of the election.

They were said to have made and accepted cash payments exceeding the authorized limit required by law without passing through a financial institution.

“Investigation by the Commission revealed that the sum of $27 Million USD was released which was converted to N131,380,000 in various Bureau de Change,” the spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement. “The sum formed part of N450 Million released to the Enugu state PDP Campaign team.

“The money was allegedly collected by Nathan Owhor from some party chieftains and taken to a hotel at New Haven, Enugu where it was disbursed to all supervising returning officers of INEC for onward disbursement to other staff in all the local government areas of the state.”

Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against them and were granted bail in the sum of Five Million Naira (N5, 000,000) each and one surety each who must not be below the rank of a director in either state or federal ministry. The sureties must also own landed properties within the court’s jurisdiction.

Justice Liman further ruled that the accused person should continue to enjoy the administrative bail granted by the EFCC until the conditions listed above are met within seven days.

Failure to meet the conditions, they would be re-arrested and remanded in prison custody, the judge said.

The matter was adjourned to October 10, 2018.