By Ben Agande
ABUJA — A meeting of leaders of political parties and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission yesterday almost ended in  chaos when the representatives of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, at the meeting referred to other smaller parties as “parties of husbands and wives.”

National Auditor of the PDP, Chief Samuel Ortom, was reacting to string of insults and accusation against the ruling PDP by some of the smaller political parties. It took the intervention of the INEC chairman to calm frayed nerves as the National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA,  Chief Victor Umeh and Dr Samuel Ortom engaged each other in a shouting match.

And to add to the confusion, the INEC’s Acting Director in charge of Political Party monitoring, Mrs Omo-Agege displayed her ignorance of the leadership of the political parties when she informed the INEC chairman that Dr Samuel Ortom was an impostor and not the National Auditor of the PDP. Prof. Jega had to apologise to Ortom when he was availed of the truth.

Yesterday’s meeting was to intimate the leadership of the parties of the preparation of INEC for the forthcoming voters registration as well as guidelines for the conduct of party primaries.

Jega informed the leaders of the political parties that preparations had reached advanced stage in the compilation of the voters register.

He told the party leaders that the recent incidence in Lagos where some of the Direct Data Capture, DDC, machines were stolen from the Lagos airport would not affect the credibility of the voters registration exercise.

According to him, “I am aware that many Nigerians, including political parties, have expressed apprehension as to whether this will adversely affect the voter registration process. Nigerians are particularly concerned about the security of the data and whether people might clone these machines and use the fakes to undermine the process.

“I should say that while we are mindful of the need to ensure the integrity of the process, we do not believe that the security of the process has been breached in any way. We have made adequate preparations to secure the process and the theft of a few computers before they have been activated for registration would not impair the elaborate security features designed into the process.”

He, however, called on security agencies to “intensify their bid to fully unearth how and why the few computers were stolen from a place that otherwise should be fully secured and in addition they need to ensure the full protection of the equipment throughout the registration process.”

Leaders of the political parties called on the commission to remain impartial in its dealing with the political parties and to liaise with security agencies to ensure that security is provided during the forth coming registration of voters.

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