The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has identified vote-buying and insecurity as some of the major concerns as the Commission prepares to conduct the July 16 governorship election in Osun State.
The governorship election is one of the eight off-cycle governorship elections in Nigeria.
Addressing a high-level security and other stakeholders meeting on INEC’s preparedness for the election, the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday in Abuja also said that the commission has plans to ensure the success of the election.
The meeting, which was tagged inter-agency consultative committee, was attended by heads of various security agencies as well as the resident electoral commissioner (REC) and the commissioner of Police, Osun State.
Yakubu said that the synergy between the commission and the security agencies on the one hand, and among the security agencies on the other, ensured seamless coordination of efforts resulting in the widely acclaimed success of the June 18 governorship election in Ekiti State.
He noted that while the Ekiti State election did not spill over to the second day as happened with past elections in Nigeria and ballot box snatching and destruction of voting exercises were not recorded, vote buying was rife thus the need to address this challenge.
He also promised to build on the success of the Ekiti experience to ensure improved performance in subsequent elections, including the 2023 general election.
Yakubu said the next two weeks will be devoted to the Osun election as one of the series of off-season elections.
He said that the commission will observe the mock accreditation of voters in some Polling Units (PUs) across the three Senatorial Districts of the state to test the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
While noting that the atmosphere was generally calm at the moment, the INEC boss said the commission was nevertheless concerned about reports of clashes in some places.
He said, “In one recent example, the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) was disrupted in Erin Oke and Erin Ijesha Wards of Oriade Local Government Area resulting in the loss of 46 PVCs.
“While the matter is being investigated by the police, the collection of PVCs for the affected Wards is now taking place in the INEC office in Ijebu-Jesha.”
He said that the state office has compiled the Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of the cards and the Commission had already reprinted the PVCs for the affected voters.
He assured all valid registrants in Osun State that no one will be disenfranchised on account of such an incident.
He said, “It is futile for anyone to attempt to vote using another person’s PVC. The BVAS biometric accreditation will expose such fraud and persons apprehended will be prosecuted under the law.
“Recent experience had shown that vote buying remains a major area of concern. We appreciate the role played by the anti-corruption and security agencies in apprehending some of the perpetrators of this brazen assault on our democracy.
“In particular, we are working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure the prosecution of persons arrested in the recent Ekiti governorship election. Action will commence as soon as the EFCC completes its investigation. I appeal to all security agencies to continue to join hands with the Commission to tackle this menace.”
He also reassured all Nigerians who applied for Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents arising from the recent party congresses, primaries and nomination of candidates that all requests are being attended to expeditiously despite the huge quantities of documents involved.
He also said Nigerian elections, especially the conduct of primaries for the nomination of candidates by political parties, is one of the most litigated in the world.
“As at yesterday evening (Friday 1st July 2022), 216 requests have so far been processed involving the certification of over 1,650,000 pages of documents.
“Indeed, there are now far more cases challenging the breach of internal democracy within political parties than those involving the conduct of the main elections by INEC.
“We would work round the clock, including the weekends, to ensure that we attend to all applications received at the headquarters of the Commission promptly,” Yakubu said.
On his part, the National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (retd), represented by Alhaji Sanusi Galadima, commended INEC and other security agencies for the success achieved in the Ekiti election.
He, however, tasked the commission to improve voters’ awareness to address poor voter turnout as witnessed in the Ekiti State governorship election.
“Records from the conduct of the last Ekiti State Governorship election indicated an impressive performance by the INEC as well the ICCES member agencies as there was no major incident of security concern recorded during and after the election.
“However, more needs to be done in terms of enlightenment campaigns to encourage voters to come out and cast their votes on the day of the election.
“This is because of the low turnout recorded during the election compared to the total number of registered voters in the state.
“Consequent upon the above, the NSA enjoined INEC, through the Department of Voter education/publicity, to redouble efforts ahead of the Osun State guber election and the forthcoming general elections in 2023,” he said.