By Anthony Ogbonna
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has, Friday, corrected the notion in some quarters that being in possession of Specimen ballot papers before election is not legal.
The INEC’s Director of Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, while appearing on Channels Television programme, The Verdict, however said that it is not wrong and neither is it a crime for political parties to be in possession of Specimen ballot papers before election.
He said the Specimen ballot papers were given to them by the commission for “getting people out, teaching them how to vote correctly such that their ballots are not invalid.”
According to him, “Yes! we did give political parties a specimen of the ballot paper. There is nothing wrong with having specimen ballot papers in your possession.”
“In terms of getting people out, teaching them how to vote correctly such that their ballots are not invalid.
“We even supported the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) which is an umbrella body for all political association of all political parties registered in Nigeria.”
Recall that two person were arrested yesterday with many bags of specimen ballot papers.
But the INEC official said such specimen ballot papers are not the original ballot because they don’t have the security readings of the original ballot papers.
But he said although the specimen ballot papers were given to the parties, they were however, meant for educating the electorates on the proper way to cast their votes so they will be valid.
He however said that it becomes a crime if such specimen ballot papers are forged.
According to him, “They were given specimen so that they will use it to demonstrate how you cast your vote, how you fold the paper, and how you do everything else.”
“I have seen so many (instances) where the political parties themselves, rather than give the blank one that we gave, now put the fingerprint on their logo. They are allowed to do that,” Osaze-Uzzi stated.
He added, “If they try to forge it and look for a surreptitious way to get it on election day into the scheme of things, then that is a crime.
“But for them to replicate it for voter education purpose and put specimen on top of it, there is nothing wrong with that.”
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