Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday disclosed that it has suspended 205 of its staff over various unwholesome roles in the 2015 general elections.
INEC’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who made the disclosure in his keynote address at national colloquium organised by the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG), said that the interdiction, recommended by INEC’s Appointments, Promotion and Discipline Committee (APDC), was the highest so far.
He therefore warned that any staff found culpable in electoral malpractice will be dealt with in accordance with the provision of the rules of service.
The INEC boss also disclosed that the total number of Nigerians who have successfully registered in the ongoing Continuous voters registration exercise now stands at 6,906,411.
He said that commission’s electoral officers were already in the field working towards the success of the 2019 elections.
“We have to put the right people in place as electoral officers and assistant electoral officers for the 2019 general elections.
“The credibility of an election depends on the credibility of the election manager; the credulity of the election manager depends on the credibility of the staff.
“The APDC recommended the interdiction of 205 staff found culpable in various roles they played arising from the 2015 general elections—this is the highest number of interdictions since the history of the commission.
“We have within the some of the most patriotic staff in the country; but anybody found wanting will be dealt with accordingly.’’
He said that the introduction of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) had increased voter registration.
He revealed that Rivers State currently tops the list of states with fresh voters registrations. Other states that followed in order of sequence includes Anambra, Borno,Delta,Lagos,Cross-river,Osun,Enugu,Kano and Plateau.
Mahmood said the new registration figures were captured in about 1,446 centres scattered across the country and was achieved in 5 quarters spanning between 2016 to 2018.
According to the electoral body, a comprehensive list of the newly registered voters will be published in the commission’s website before the end of this week to enable Nigerians scrutinize it.
“we are not unaware of the challenges. We are not unaware that we have not reached the places that are easily accessible to Nigerians.”
He described the feat as laudable because approximately 7million people would have been disenfranchised in the 2019 general elections. While expressing satisfaction that this has been largely due to voter enlightenment by relevant stakeholders, he said not a single petition or complaints have been received by INEC regarding the conduct of the exercise.
Giving a breakdown of the figures, he said, “in 2017, we registered 3,9981,502. Interestingly in first quarter of 2018 alone, additional 2,9024,909 Nigerians were registered.”
He said between 8 th to 12 th of April 2018, INEC will be playing host to chairmen of electoral commissions in West Africa and Southern Africa, where their discussions will centre on technology and electoral processes.
The INEC boss also gave assurance that despite challenges confronting the commission, their loyalty will always be tilted to the Nigerian people rather than individuals or institutions.
Meanwhile, Chima Amadi, convener of the colloquium, described the progress recorded by INEC under its new leadership as an indication of an organization responding positively in the build up to 2019 general elections.
He said it was unfortunate that the security agencies and the political gladiators were not measuring up to standard even as the election draws closer, rather they were busy devising means to thwart the electoral process.
“While it is our considered opinion that INEC has been the most responsive of all government agencies involved in the election value chain, taking in advice and constructive criticisms and adjusting its activities to reflect same.
“This much cannot be said about others within that chain, the security agencies continue to behave true to type and are even getting worse, while political gladiators horn their manipulative stock-in-trade.
“However, we are resolved to take them to task with the same resilience that we used in getting INEC to act properly, for the 2019 elections, the ISDMG will be deploying cutting edge technology to the field to ensure that history is properly documented,”Amadi told participants at the one day colloquium.