Anambra Poll: Mind your utterances, INEC warns parties, candidates

Prof Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman

By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties and their candidates not to exacerbate the feeling of insecurity in Anambra State through unguarded utterances ahead of the November 6 Governorship Election.

The Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave this warning in his remarks at an Emergency Meeting of INEC and Political Parties in Nigeria held on Friday at its Headquarters in Abuja.

Yakubu has also told political parties and, indeed  Nigerians that “going forward, nobody will be allowed to vote in any election without successful biometric accreditation”.

Speaking at the meeting which was attended by the leaders of the 18 political parties and the Chairman of IPAC, Dr. Ezenwa, the INEC boss said that the emergency gathering became imperative because of the deteriorating security situation in Anambra state. 

According to him: “this meeting was called to updated you on preparations for the Anambra State Governorship election, which will hold as scheduled on 6th November 2021 and also to review the deteriorating security situation in Anambra.

“This emergency meeting has become necessary in order to brief you on our continuing preparations for the election and to discuss recent developments in the State beginning with the registration of voters and compilation of the voters’ register.

Prof. Yakubu also revealed thst in Anambra State, a total of 138,802 citizens completed the registration, including applications for transfer and requests for replacement of lost, damaged or defaced PVCs as required by law. However, in the process of cleaning up the registration data, we discovered that many previously registered persons re-registered afresh. 

He also said that “as a testimony to the effectiveness of our new system for checking double and multiple registrations, the Commission found out that some 62,698 persons who are already registered voters in Anambra State went ahead to register again.

“These double or multiple registrations are invalid by law. We have archived these registrations and will not print new PVCs for them. Their old PVCs remain valid and they can use them to vote at the Polling Units where they registered and probably voted in previously elections. 

“The same cleaning up exercise is going on nationwide. As soon as it is over, the Commission will provide further details to Nigerians on the situation in other States of the Federation and action to be taken on the matter. Let me remind all Nigerians that the law prohibits double registration. The Commission appreciates the fact that the deployment of technology, including the online pre-registration, has simplified the process and made voter registration in Nigeria easier.

“However, the same technology has also made it easier for us to detect multiple registrations”.

The INEC Chairman   therefore said consequent upon this, the number of valid registrants in Anambra State at the end of the First Quarter of the CVR exercise on 5th September 2021 is 77,475. This figure has been added to the existing register of 2,447,996 eligible voters used for the 2019 General Election.

“Accordingly, the number of registered voters in Anambra State now stands at 2,525,471. We shall provide a detailed breakdown of the figure for public information in the days ahead”, he stated.

“I am glad to report that we have already completed 10 out of 14 activities in our Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Governorship election. Only yesterday, we published the final list of candidates in our State and Local Government offices in Anambra State and simultaneously uploaded the same information to our website and social media platforms.

Furthermore, all the 18 political parties participating in the election were issued a soft copy of the updated register of voters at a meeting held in our State Office in Awka. We are presently working on the printing of the PVCs. We shall use various channels, including e-mails and text messages, to contact the new voters to collect their PVCs before the election”.

On voters accreditation he said: “I wish to assure you that the Commission is committed to deploying the BVAS for electronic fingerprint and facial accreditation of voters. The pilot deployment of the system in the Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye-election in Delta State held last month was very encouraging. For example, successful full biometric accreditation was 32.8% in the constituency during the 2019 General Election. However, using the BVAS in the same constituency during the recent bye-election, successful accreditation sharply rose to 97.4%. The Commission will continue to deploy appropriate technology to improve our electoral process”.

 “Let me once again reiterate the position of the Commission that going forward, nobody will be allowed to vote in any election without successful biometric accreditation”.

Speaking on the security situation in Anambra state, he said: “security remains a major challenge to our preparations. For the political parties, these heinous attacks have truncated campaigns, making voter mobilization and sensitization impossible. Consequently, Anambra State is not in the usual election mood. It is in the light of the security situation in the State that the Commission held an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) last Tuesday”. 

“We are also confident that the heightened deployment of security officials, which is expected in the coming weeks, will further give citizens the confidence to turn up and vote on Election Day. We shall continue to work with the security agencies to ensure that the election is successful and violence-free. 

He however said: “I wish to appeal to all political parties and candidates not to exacerbate the feeling of insecurity in Anambra State through unguarded utterances and actions. This could compound the security situation and make the work of the Commission, political parties and security agencies even more difficult. It may also lead to voter apathy. This moment calls for statesmanship and maturity hence the decision to convene this emergency meeting. We are confident that the outcome of this engagement will be productive and helpful to the Commission and political parties as we continue to prepare for the Anambra Governorship holding on Saturday 6th November 2021”.

Meanwhile, IPAC Chairman Dr. Leonard Nzenwa who responded on behalf of the political parties assured INEC boss that they are on the same page just as he said IPAC is  supporting the Commission on Electronic Transmission of  Results in Anambra .

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