By Clifford Ndujihe & Dotun Ibiwoye
Lagos—THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, dismissed as baseless reports that it had hatched plots to the rig tomorrow’s Presidential and National Assembly polls for the All Progressives Congress (APC), insisting that the polls will be free, fair and credible.
Indeed, to ensure that voting begins early tomorrow, the electoral commission, yesterday, moved sensitive election materials like ballot papers to the local councils, which in turn would be moved to the wards today. Tomorrow, the materials will be moved to the polling units and voting points.
At the INEC Lagos office, yesterday, electoral officers were at hand to collect the materials amid tight security. Hordes of Mobile police men were at hand and two Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) were strategically parked in front the commission.
Reacting to a front page advertorial ‘Exposed: How Jega plots to rig election for APC’ on some national newspapers on Wednesday, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Robert Idowu, in a statement said the allegation is baseless.
Stating that the advert was placed by a faceless group, which cited the constitution of a presidential election result collation committee by the INEC chairman as the basis for its allegation that a plot to rig the election has been hatched, Idowu said ‘’INEC would not have bothered to respond to such patently cynical and malicious allegation, but for the fact that the elections are days away and otherwise respectable national newspapers have lent themselves to be used as platforms to disseminate such falsehood. Any misinformation, – even as baseless as in this particular case – unless corrected could mislead innocent or undiscerning members of the public and cause unnecessary apprehension about the credibility of the electoral process.’’
He said: ‘’The Commission affirms that the allegation to manipulate or rig the election is completely false and baseless. The Chairman of the Commission as the Chief Electoral Commissioner of Nigeria and the Returning Officer of the presidential election, has statutory and legal powers to constitute administrative committee(s) to facilitate the performance of his duties.
The constitution of an in-house committee to assist in the collation process after the presidential election is purely an administrative arrangement to assist the Chairman. Members of the committee are officials of the Commission. They work as professionals and non-partisan technocrats and have sworn to the oath of neutrality in the execution of their official duties. They are drawn from the Operations, ICT and Legal departments of the Commission as well as the Office of the Chairman. This arrangement is not new and was the same as during the 2011 general elections.
‘’INEC condemns these sinister and unpatriotic attempts to create unnecessary controversies aimed at discrediting the Commission through dissemination of falsehood.
The Commission assures Nigerians of its commitment and resoluteness to conduct free, fair and credible elections. The Commission will not hesitate to institute legal action, where necessary, to protect its members from malicious and libelous allegations.’’
People can use cameras, smart phones during the polls – Lagos REC
To show that the commission has nothing to hide and wants to conduct transparent polls, the Lagos Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC, Mr Akin Orebiyi, yesterday, said that the electorate could use camera and other devices which have camera to capture the voting process during the elections tomorrow.
“The world is now a global village so pictures are allowed to be taken at the polling booths. An electorate can come with his camera phone and take pictures of the voting process. The whole world is monitoring us and we will not be left behind as people hiding information,’’ he said.
Orebiyi also urged the electorate not to be afraid of the use of the smart card readers because the commission has put everything in place towards a successful conduct of the general election.
Speaking at a briefing on the state of preparedness of the Police and other security agencies towards a successful and violent free 2015 general elections at Ikeja, Orebiyi said that the commission has made adequate arrangements for seamless balloting in the 205 polling units across the riverine areas of Lagos.
According to him, the commission has several life jackets, speed boats, large commercial boats and canoes for the polls.
“I was also in Ondo some years ago to conduct election and there were 271 polling units in the riverine areas and we had a very successful election. So I do not see Lagos with 205 polling units across the riverine areas and islands to be a problem.
“INEC is committed to ensuring a free and fair election and we do not intend to disenfranchise anybody or stop people from voting. In ensuring a credible election, we introduced two things which are the Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) and the smart card readers, which will help the commission to authenticate genuine and fake PVCs.’’