2019: INEC Will Never Yield To Pressure, Says Mahmood Yakubu

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, says the commission is completely independent in the discharge of its duties.

Professor Yakubu stated this during an interview on Channels Television’s Roadmap 2019, a special political programme anchored by Ladi Akerelodu-Ale on Mondays.

He noted that INEC has not been pressurised from any quarter since he assumed office and the electoral body would resist such stoutly.

“Since I assumed duty on the 9th of November 2015, I have been under no pressure from any quarter at all and this commission will never yield to any pressure from any quarter,” the INEC Chairman said.

“I have been under no pressure to do what is wrong and I will never do what is wrong. So, I think there is a sufficiency of guise in the law; the independence is what we make of that independence,” he added.

With about nine months to the general elections, the INEC boss assured that the commission is working hard to ensure the polls are conducted without prejudice.

He, however, pointed out that the independence of the electoral body comes from the integrity of the election managers, saying it is not necessarily drawn from statutory provisions.

On the process of selecting an INEC chairman, Professor Yakubu noted that it is better to say the President nominates rather than appoints a candidate.

He stressed further that the constitutional provision for appointing an INEC chairman requires that the President must first consult with the National Council of States.

The Council of State is made up of the President, all the governors, serving presiding officers of the National Assembly, former Chief Justices of the Federation, as well as former presidents and Heads of State among others.

Professor Yakubu explained, “There is a process of consultation, then it (the name) is submitted to the National Assembly and the NASS screens the candidate and then submit their recommendations to the President who swears the commission in.”

He added that the process of removing an INEC chairman is also clearly defined by the law.

According to the INEC boss, it requires a two-thirds majority of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to remove an INEC chairman.

He added that the other ways include by means of voluntary resignation or in the case of ill-health.

Alleged Kano Underage Voters: INEC Is Not Culpable By Mahmood Yakubu

Following the Kano State Local Government election held on 10th February 2018, there were several reports in the media, particularly the social media, alleging that underaged persons voted in the election. Both explicit and implicit in some of these reports was the suggestion that since the National Register of Voters compiled by INEC was used in the election, the alleged problem of underaged voting in the Kano Local Government election is linked to a prevalence of underaged registrants in the National Register of Voters.

I must note that till date, not a single formal complaint on this matter has been received by the Commission. Rather, some stakeholders, including a political party, have taken to the media to criticize INEC and in some cases to impugn the integrity of the National Register of Voters. Concerned that some of the claims being made about the Register could create doubts in the minds of citizens about INEC’s preparations for the forthcoming general elections, the Commission on 21st February 2018 set up an investigation panel into the allegations that underaged persons voted in the Kano State Local Government election, using the Register of Voters given to the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) by INEC, as prescribed by law.

For the avoidance of doubt, let me emphasize first, that INEC was not in any way involved in organizing the Kano State Local Government election beyond the legal requirement that the register of voters compiled by INEC should be used in all Local Government elections nationwide. The conduct of that election was entirely the responsibility of KANSIEC. Secondly, let me also emphasize that the investigative committee was not established to inquire into the general conduct of the Kano State Local Government election or to inquire into the organization or challenges of KANSIEC. Indeed, INEC has no legal remit to do so. Rather, as the Terms of Reference of the Committee show, its role was strictly to inquire into claims linking the register of voters compiled by INEC and the alleged incidents of underaged voting in the election.

The investigative committee had National Commissioner Engineer Abubakar Nahuche as Chairman, another National Commissioner Barrister May Agbamuche-Mbu, two Resident Electoral Commissioners (Barristers Mike Igini and Kassim Geidam) as well as some Directors and staff of the Commission, who are experts in ICT, as members. It has since submitted its Report. The Commission has carefully considered the report and accepted its findings and recommendations. Based on its Terms of Reference, there are four key points in the findings and recommendations of the Committee, which may be summarised as follows:

i.      Kano State Independent Electoral Commission requested for and received from INEC the Kano State Register of Voters for the election. The Register was produced for use for the elections. However, the Register was only sighted in a few polling units. In other words, the Register was not used in most of the polling units. In fact, accreditation using the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) largely did not take place.

ii.     Given that the Register was substantially not used to accredit voters before voting, it is logical to conclude that if underaged voting occurred in the election, it was not due to any presence of underaged registrants on the Register of Voters. However, after examining some of the images in circulation, the Committee found that they have been available long before the Kano Local Government Elections. The few images and video clips from Kano show no accreditation of voters or any relationship with the Register of Voters.

iii.    There is need and ample room for collaboration between INEC and all stakeholders to continue to update and improve the National Register of Voters to eliminate all ineligible registrants from it, including dead persons, aliens and underaged registrants.

iv.    INEC should work with the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) to ensure continuous improvements in the quality of all elections conducted in Nigeria.

Since the central interest of the Commission and Nigerians in this remains the National Register of Voters because it is the bedrock of the 2019 general elections, let me share with you a few facts about the current register of voters.

Essentially, the present register of voters is the one compiled by the last Commission in 2011. Recall that before 2011, the register of voters was full of errors including strange entries like Mike Tyson, incorrect entries and misplaced records. Although the pre-2011 register was supposed to contain the fingerprints of registrants, the last Commission found that most of the fingerprints were missing or of very poor quality. Also, there were integration issues and a lot of data were lost because they were collected using incompatible platforms. In addition, there were multiple registrations, as there was minimal attempt to remove multiple entries from the register. These were some of the problems that the last Commission tried to solve by embarking on fresh registration of voters in 2011.

Since the 2011 general elections, the Commission has been updating this register in accordance with the law along three lines: (i) addition of new registrants from the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR); (ii) more stringent running of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to identify multiple registrants and remove them; and (iii) updating incomplete records such as entries with incomplete fingerprints and wrongly spelt names among others. These became particularly important with the introduction of the PVC and Smart Card Reader (SCR). For this reason, records without fingerprints had to be updated, otherwise, the concerned voters will not be able to vote using the PVC and SCR. As a result of these updates and clean up, a final register of 68,833,476 was used for the 2015 general elections.

Consequently, this Commission believes that it inherited a register that:

i.      Meets a high standard of biometric registration. In fact, many other countries have subsequently learnt from INEC in handling their own registers. For instance, during the recent Presidential election in Liberia, the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), through the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), which I currently chair, requested the services of INEC staff to sort out issues with their register. Their work has been highly commended by these organisations and the diplomatic community for contributing to the success of the Liberian election;

ii.     Contains 68.8 million valid entries, easily the largest single database of Nigerians in existence;

iii.    Supports fingerprint matching for authentication of voters during elections using the SCR;

iv.    Supports the introduction of machine readable, chip-based PVC; and

v.     Ensures continuous updating through the Continuous Voter Registration, as prescribed by law.

Under the present INEC, only 432,233 new registrants have been added to our national Voter Register. This represents 0.9 percent increase on the Register used for the 2015 general elections. These additions came essentially from the CVR carried out in 2015 and 2016 in States where we conducted off-season Governorship elections namely Bayelsa, Kogi, Edo and Ondo as well as the FTC Area Council elections. From April 2017 when we commenced the CVR to December of the same year, some 3,981,502 new registrants were recorded, including figures from Anambra State Governorship election held in November 2017. This figure represents the first major additions to the Register since this Commission came on board. Even so, except for the 190,767 new registrants added to the voter register in Anambra State, the new registrants are just about to be added to the national Register.

It is important to remind us that this National Register of Voters has been used to conduct the 2011 and 2015 general elections, as well as several re-run, off-season and by-elections. Most of these elections have not only been adjudged to meet international standards but have also produced varied outcomes for different political parties at different times. Indeed, the Register used in the Kano Local Government election of 10th February 2018 was the one compiled in 2011, updated in 2014 and used for the 2015 general elections.

This Commission did not add a single name to the voter register. As with all elections, some political parties have won and some have lost using the same Register. In fact, many constituencies have changed from one political party to another between elections on the basis of the same Register. Therefore, for anyone to suggest that the same register, on the basis of which political parties have won and lost elections at different times, is suddenly unreliable is curious to say the least.

Let me reiterate that this Commission is convinced that we now have a dependable register, even if it is not perfect. We believe that it is a huge national asset, easily the largest database of Nigerians in existence today containing over 70 million entries of names, addresses, photographs, ten fingerprints, telephone numbers etc. I implore all Nigerians to see the value of this national asset and work with the Commission to continue to improve it. Considering that there are few if any perfect voters roll anywhere, we can continue to work together with stakeholders and indeed all citizens to ensure that all ineligible registrants and entries are removed from the register and that eligible voters who have not registered take advantage of the ongoing CVR.

Let me also share with you what we have been doing and what we plan to do as a Commission to continue to update the register and remove ineligible entries from it.

First, we have made registration more continuous than ever before, starting from April 2017. We regularly display the provisional register after each CVR exercise for claims and objections, as required by law. This usually lasts between 5 and 14 days. We appeal to Nigerians to always use the opportunity of this display to alert the Commission about ineligible registrants, including underaged persons and aliens, as well as incorrect details of registrants.

Second, also as required by law, we have consistently given political parties copies of the register for each year and ahead of general elections as well as Governorship off-season elections. Only recently, on 28th February 2018, we gave each of the 68 political parties a copy of the register containing names of the 3.9 million new voters registered in 2017. We urged them to use the register not only to reach out to voters, but also to check whether there are ineligible persons on the list and draw the attention of the Commission to them. Unfortunately, since this Commission was inaugurated in 2015, there has not been a single report from any political party of ineligible voters on the Register.

Third, we have been working with the Nigerian Immigration Service to eliminate aliens from the Register by confiscating PVCs from aliens who are not entitled to vote, thereby identifying them for removal from the Register. Furthermore, the Immigration Service has promised to post their officials to registration centres during CVR to check the incidence of alien registrants.

Fourth, we intend through our Registration Area Officers (RAOs) to engage communities in all our 8,809 Registration Areas or Wards on a continuous basis to identify deceased persons and other ineligible registrants for removal from the Register. We have developed a RAOs Log Book specifically for this engagement. We appeal to Nigerians to cooperate with them in identifying ineligible registrants for removal.

Fifth, we intend to include major civil society groups and the media in the publication of the Register of Voters in the future. Section 20 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides that the Register be published 30 days before a general election. In addition to political parties, we intend to include other categories of stakeholders by making available copies of the register to them. Of course, this is without prejudice to the right of every Nigerian to apply for and receive the Register on the payment of the necessary fees as enshrined in the Electoral Act. We hope that CSOs and the media will also join in identifying ineligible registrants for removal.

Sixth, after the ongoing CVR, which as the law provides will end not later than 60 days to the forthcoming general elections on 16th February 2019 – please note that the law says not later than 60 days, which means that the CVR must end on or before the 60th day to the election –  we intend to display not only the provisional register, but the entire Register at all the Registration Areas/Wards across the country. This again will provide a good opportunity for all citizens to interrogate the Register and identify ineligible registrants, including underaged persons, for removal.

Finally, the Commission notes the recommendation of the Nahuche Committee that collaboration between INEC and SIECs is necessary to improve the quality of elections in Nigeria, including Local Government elections. In fact, INEC has forged a longstanding relationship with the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FORSIECON), the umbrella body of SIECs. We shall continue to collaborate with FORSIECON towards establishing robust pathways to improving the quality of all elections conducted in Nigeria. Some of the ideas already mooted include drafting of a model law establishing SIECs to bring them in line with the Electoral Act and global best practices, as well as the development of voluntary “Guiding Principles for the Conduct of Free, Fair and Credible Elections in Nigeria” to which we expect all 37 Election Management Bodies in Nigeria to accede.

Ironically there has been a silver lining in the cloud of allegations of underaged voting in the Kano State Local Government elections. It is providing the Commission an opportunity to take another look at the Register and to engage with stakeholders on how to continue to update and improve it, particularly through the removal of ineligible registrants. As we have consistently promised Nigerians, as a Commission, we shall continue to be open to criticisms, accept shortcomings and take bold corrective steps whenever necessary. All we ask is for Nigerians to see election and the processes related to it, not as the business of INEC alone, but as a collective national project.

President Buhari Attends APC’s Ward Congresses

As the nationwide ward congresses of All Progressives Congress (APC) kicks off, President Muhammadu Buhari, was on Saturday at the Bayajidda Model Nursery and Primary school, Daura in Kastina state venue of the exercise in his ward.

The President was in the company of the State Governor, Mr. Aminu Masari, stakeholders of Sarkin Yara, a ward he belongs to.

Contestants, delegates, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other dignitaries are also on the ground to participate in the process.

The incumbent chairman of the Sarkin Yara A ward, Aliyu Mani and 25 other officials were returned unopposed following a consensus reached under a voice voting system.

The voting was facilitated by the Ward’s Elders Forum.

Buhari has urged the party executives elected in his sarkin Yara A electoral ward to discharge their responsibilities with fear of God and in accordance with the party constitution.

He said throughout his political career he has been a loyal party member who respect the rules and the regulations of his political party, stressing I called on you to fear God in whatever you do as we would transit to the next world and account for our deeds before our creator.

“I have contested for this office and lost three times consecutively but eventually I won glory be to God.

He said his administration was determined to upholding constitutional provisions and the rule of law, stressing we need to play politics with decency and decorum.

Earlier in his remarks Gov Aminu Masari,commended the president for finding time to attend the congress in spite of his tight schedule.

He described the presence of the president was a clear demonstration of his commitments to party rules and the regulations, “adding we would continue to emulate this examplary attitude of yours sir .

He called on Nigerians to continue to pray for peace and stability of the nation as well as respect the constituted athourities for socioeconomic progress of the nation.

Alhaji Ahmad El-Marzuq, the commissioner and Attorney -General Katsina state said the congress was adopted by a unanimous consensus without hitches.

He said the constitution of the all progressive congress APC has adopted conduct of congresses either by direct election or consensus stressing ours had always being rancour free.

Marzuq, lauded the efforts of the president in ensuring strict adherence to party rules, “adding we expect the remaining wards to borrow a leaf from us.

Malam Aliyu Mani the incumbent ward chairman was returned as the chairman, Ibrahim Halilu as deputy chairman, and Rufai Aliyu as secretary.

The presidential ward of sarkin Yara A comprise of 15 polling units and 26 party executives who returned elected by consensus.

Buhari arrived in Daura, his hometown, on Friday to participate in his party’s congress.

In Ebonyi state, Chief Eze Nwachukwu, the Ebonyi Acting Chairman, APC, assured party faithful that conduct of the party’s wards congresses would be open, peaceful and credible.

The chairman spoke on Saturday morning in Abakaliki at a meeting with party faithful, stakeholders and the electoral committee team from the APC national secretariat, Abuja .

Nwachukwu promised that the exercise would be open, peaceful and devoid of manipulation.

He called for support and cooperation of members to make the exercise hitch – free, noting that the success of the local government and state congresses were largely dependant on the outcome of the wards congresses.

In Kano State, the party said the congresses would hold in the 484 wards.

Malam Ibrahim Sarina, Secretary of APC said that all necessary arrangements had been concluded for the successful conduct of the exercise.

“We are very ready. Everything has been put in place and members of the party’s National Election Committee are already in Kano,’’ he said.

Sarina said that each ward would produce 26 executive members from the position of Chairman to Ex-officio at the end of the exercise.

The secretary said the party had resolved to conduct the congress through consensus.

“We have decided that the congress be conducted through consensus but where it is not possible, people are free to do it through open ballot system,’’ he explained.

The Gombe State Police Command deployed enough police men to monitor and ensure a hitch free congresses.

PSP Mary Malum, the command Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), on Saturday said that the deployment was part of measures put in place to provide security during the exercise.

She advised the party officials and members to play the game according to the rules and not to take law in to their hands.

“All measures have been put in place and currently our men were deployed to ensure a hitch free exercise.

“I am advising the public to be law abiding and be good citizens, the politicians should also play the game according to the rules so that there will be a hitch free exercise”, she said.

Only N100m Was Spent On Melaye’s Failed Recall- INEC

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, says only N100m was spent on the failed attempt to recall Kogi-West lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye.

The INEC chairman said this while responding to a question posed by newsmen at a press conference in Abuja on Friday.

Yakubu said the figure was nowhere near the N1bn being bandied by the Peoples Democratic Party.

He said a recall exercise is just like conducting a Senatorial election, adding that Kogi-West which Melaye represents, has 552 polling units and seven local governments.

The INEC boss said ad hoc staff were deployed in all the polling units.

INEC: The Art Of Kicking The Leg By Azu Ishiekwene

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have a rough ride this week, over a matter that is, in the strict sense, not its business.

After weeks of investigation, this could be the week when the Commission finally releases its findings into allegations that the Kano State Local Government election, conducted by the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) using INEC’s register, was marred by underage voting.

Shortly after the election in February, the social media was rife with pictures of long lines of children purportedly voting or waiting to vote.

We’ve heard stories before, confirmed by INEC, of how palm kernels thumb-printed the ballot on voting day and the names of Mike Tyson, Nelson Mandela, Hulk Hogan and James Brown surfaced in the voter register.

Yet in this age of 3D and fake news, we have also seen desperadoes use grafted, totally irrelevant images on social media to stir up hate and division – or just simply as currency for expensive joke.

It’s gratifying that INEC decided to investigate the complaints and make its findings public.

Beyond the results of the findings and the lessons that would hopefully be learnt, however, there is the need to answer the fundamental question: how do we ensure and maintain the integrity of the voter register, arguably one of the most important public assets?

Politicians only remember the register when they are almost certain they will lose or immediately after losing. That is why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which won by a landslide in Kano in 2011, using the same voter register, has been the most vociferous in complaining after its defeat in 2015.

Or why the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which thinks that it currently enjoys an advantage, appears completely indifferent in the debate about the integrity of the register. It has been sitting on copies sent to it for vetting for years now.

But malicious negligence is not an exclusive PDP or APC thing. So far as politics imitates sports, kicking the leg rather than the ball or blaming the referee when all else fails, is, well, part of the game– to those who would rather not play by the rules.

On Monday, the former Minister of Information and current National Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Labaran Maku, called for the scrapping of all state independent electoral commissions (SIECs).

He said unless state electoral commissions are scrapped, the opposition in states will never have any hope of winning elections.

He is right, in a sense. In a recent article by Segun Adeniyi, entitled, “The amber light is on…1,” he said that from May 2015 to date, 23 states have conducted local government elections in which the incumbent party won virtually all the vacant seats.

State governors, who have the SIECs in their pockets, saw to it that their parties won by landslide. And that included Anambra where APGA, Maku’s party, won the seats in all 21 local governments!

But the story does not – and should not – end there. Maku was for many years a member of the ruling PDP. As a Minister of Information for nearly five years, he was also in the inner circle of the party at that time.

Just as it is today that SIECs are the rubberstamp of governors, that is exactly how it was when Maku was in the then ruling party. Not that I agree with him that the only way to make the SIECs work is to scrap them or pile on more job on the centre.

Changing how SIEC members are appointed, who is appointed, and the funding model, would strengthen them more than transferring incompetence to the centre. But that is a matter for another day.

The point here is that it has taken Maku’s exit from the PDP and the party’s fall from power for him to see the travesty in the current system.

For all the finger pointing that is sure to attend the release of INEC’s findings, I do hope that we do not, like Maku, wait until the shoe is on the other foot before we take responsibility for preserving the integrity of the voter register.

INEC’s dilemma often reminds me of what we used to say about our schoolteacher in the day. If we scored good grades in the exam, then it was the fruit of our hard work, completely deserved. If we didn’t, then it was what the teacher chose to give to us, regardless of our effort.

Of course we’ve been robbed too many times by politicians using staff of the electoral commission, security agencies, and the sheer power of incumbency not to care.

But what role do citizens, groups and political parties have to play in ensuring that we have a credible voter register, which is the first step to free and fair elections?

The law requires that the voter register be displayed publicly for “claims and objections” before any major election. Also, it is now possible for citizens who have registered to check their status on INEC’s portal by using their voter identification number or date of birth.

Why is it not possible to unify the multiple data systems from the driver’s licence and national identification card to the voter card into a single periodically updated register?

Unless we start to show more interest in the process and be engaged with it, politicians will always hijack the debate, leaving us to complain after the horse has left the stable. We cannot leave INEC to investigate its own register – all by itself – and then be the judge of infractions by its own staff.

Younger politicians who have thrown their hats into the ring – Omoyele Sowore, Fela Durotoye, Kingsley Moghalu, Datti Baba-Ahmed, etc. – should, apart from galvanizing their followers to register, also encourage them to take an interest in making claims and objections that will help in producing a credible voter register.

It’s shameful that the more established parties have been collecting copies of the voter register since 2011, as required by law, yet not one of them is known to have publicly challenged its content or written publicly to complain.

In 2015, for example, PDP said the results of the governorship elections in Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, and Kano should have been cancelled because the voter register was compromised.

Yet the party had copies of the register long before the election and didn’t complain. It was, in fact, the same register (still not updated), that was used in 2011 when the PDP won by landslide in the same six states.

Just like Maku, the party became wiser when it was at the receiving end.

But the Maku Moment is a terrible thing to waste. As INEC releases the result of its findings on Kano, clear infractions must be punished. Yet, we must rescue the voter register from the vile and gratuitous bickering of partisan politicians whose goals, let’s face it, is to discard the baby with the bath water.

Osun Guber Will Serve As A Mirror To 2019 – Agbaje

By Ismail Kolapo

The State of Osun Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Segun Agbaje, has disclosed that the September 22nd gubernatorial election in the state would serve as a mirror to the 2019 general election.

Mr. Agbaje charged politicians to allow peace before, during and after the election.

He said this while featuring on a RAVE FM programme on Friday in Osogbo.

Mr Agbaje appealed to all political parties that are interested in the forthcoming election in Osun to join hands with the commission for a smooth and credible election.

The REC who coordinated the 2014 governorship election in the state of Osun also stressed that only 30 percent out of those who collected their PVCs voted in the last exercise.

He urged parties to involve in voter education in order to reduce void ballots in the polls.

Mr Agbaje promised that INEC would put in its best to have a free, fair and credible election.

INEC Releases Report On Underage Voting Today

The Independent National Electoral Commission says it will on Friday (today) make public its investigations on underage voting in Kano.

The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said this in a text message on Thursday night.

He said, “You are all cordially invited to a press conference on the findings of the committee constituted to investigate the alleged Kano Underage Voting scheduled on Friday.”

INEC had in February set up a committee to investigate underage voting in the local government election in Kano State in which the All Progressives Congress won the 44 local governments.

The report of the committee which was submitted on March 28, was kept secret for several weeks causing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party to accuse INEC of colluding with the APC-led Federal Governemnt to rig the 2019 elections even before the polls.

New INEC REC Deployed To Osun

In less than five months to the September 22nd governorship election in Osun, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has deployed a new Resident Electoral Commissioner to the state.

The new REC, Mr Olusegun Agbaje resumed duty at the INEC headquarters in Osogbo, capital of the state on Monday.

It was confirmed that the new REC was received by the Administrative Officer of the commission who conducted him round the key departments in the state headquarters of the commission.

On resumption, Agbaje held a meeting with some very senior officials of the commission.

Agbaje was the REC posted to the state to oversee the 2014 governorship election in the state which he conducted successfully.

INEC Releases Order Of Osun Governorship Election

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released timetable for the September 22nd governorship election in the state of Osun in line with the provision of Electoral Act.

The INEC new Resident Electoral Commissioner posted to Osun, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, in his maiden address on Thursday, made the disclosure at the INEC office in Osogbo, the state capital of Osun.

Agbaje explained that 411,438 Permanent Voters Card out of 1,407,235 registered voters in 2015, are yet to be collected.

He disclosed that notice of election would be June 23 while commencement of public campaign by political parties has been slated for June 24.

According to Agbaje, conduct of party primaries including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries would be between June 24 and July 23.

He said August 22 would be the last day for the submission of nomination forms by political parties while campaigns would end on September 20.

He promised that INEC would ensure a free, fair and transparent election that would be acceptable to the people of the state.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner also urged journalists and other stakeholders to support the commission in its effort to conduct credible election come September 22.

He said, “we have the mandate to provide a level playing ground for all players and we expect in return the cooperation of all stakeholders.

“To the press, we expect you to join hands with the commission to maintain equity and justice before, during and after the process.

“On our part, we promise to operate an open door policy and ensure the entrenchment of all the core values and standards of INEC with zero tolerance for electoral fraud.


INEC Hires Over 2,000 Ad-Hoc Staff For Melaye’s Recall

A Federal Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Mohammed Haruna, has said that the Commission will be engaging the services of over 2,000 ad hoc staff in the recall process of the senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, Dino Melaye.

He also disclosed that appropriate security agencies have been enlisted and have promised to ensure a hitch-free exercise.

Haruna disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting on Wednesday in Lokoja over the commencement of the embattled senator’s recall process.

He explained that the verification exercise would hold in 552 polling units in seven local governments under Kogi West senatorial district.

According to him, the verification will hold from 8 am to 2 pm, using the card reading machines to authenticate the voter cards of those that signed the recall petition.

“Only those who signed the petition are expected to turn up at their polling units for verification,” Haruna said.

Also speaking , the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state, Prof. James Apam, said that local observers would be allowed to monitor the exercise.

He explained, however, that the verification exercise will not hold in eight polling units, as no petition was received from them.

The REC said that no party agents would be allowed access to any of the polling units, adding that the result of the exercise will be announced on April 29.

“We have concluded all arrangements in line with our schedule of activities and are set for the exercise.

“The ad hoc staff have been trained at the state and local government levels and materials procured and sent to the registration area centres, ready for movement to the polling units on the day of verification,” Apam explained.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the stakeholders’ meeting was attended by representatives of registered political parties, civil society organisations, media, police, army, civil defence and other paramilitary organisations.

( NAN)

INEC Denies Compromising 2019 Elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied making attempts to compromise the 2019 general elections as alleged by the PDP National Publicity Secretary.

Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party`s (PDP), on Friday alleged that INEC was planning to create 30,000 illegal polling units in some remote areas.

A statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, on Sunday in Abuja, urged Nigerians to disregard the allegation.

Oyekanmi explained that the commission received 3,789 requests nationwide for the creation of new polling units.

He said that in response to the requests, the commission directed its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to thoroughly asses and provide it with information on new settlements not served or inadequately served by existing polling units.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
He added that the commissioners were also to provide information on areas with natural barriers that hinder access to existing polling units; as well as areas that were distant from

existing polling units.

“The RECs are also to assess and provide information on areas affected by communal and other conflicts that make voting in existing polling units unsafe for voters,“ he said.

He said that these reports were still being awaited from the various States.

“It is these reports and the information they contain that will be collated and carefully examined by the commission in order to determine what changes may be necessary in the current polling units` profile of the country.

Rotimi Oyekanmi
“Therefore, the insinuation that the commission intends to create 30,000 new polling units to compromise the 2019 General Elections is false, misleading, unfounded and should be disregarded.”

The commission assured the public that its decisions and actions shall always be guided by the provisions of the extant laws and its determination to respond to requests by Nigerians to serve them better.

He said that the creation of more polling units would be done only after full consultation with all stakeholders. (NAN)