The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday said it was doing everything possible to ensure the speedy collation of results and declaration of winners for Feb. 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The commision’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the pledge on Sunday at press conference at the National Collation Centre in Abuja.
Yakubu said that he expected the State Collation Officers for Presidential Election (SCOPE) to start arriving at the National Collation Centre later today (Feb. 24) or Monday (Feb. 25) morning .
Yakubu, who said that INEC was happy with general peaceful and patriotic conduct of citizens, added that Nigerians demonstrated extraordinary resilience and abiding faith in democracy and electoral processes
He said that the commission met on Saturday night to review the process and the challenges arising from the conduct of the Saturday Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Yakubu said that in spite of INEC’s best efforts to enhance the functionality of the Smart Card Readers (SCRs), it experienced technical hitches in some locations.
“Through the deployment of 8,809 Area Technical Support (RATECHS) that we engaged as ad hoc, many of these hitches were successfully rectified which enabled voting to take place seamlessly in the affected PUs nationwide.
“Yet there were places where voting could not proceed as a result of the failure of the SCRs. In addition, there are places where materials arrived late for voting to proceed.
“After consultation with the communities involved, and in line with our Regulations and Guidelines, new SCRs have been reconfigured and deployed for elections in the affected polling units.
“Right now elections are ongoing in some PUs in Abia, Bayelsa, Benue, Plateau, Zamfara and one Polling Unit in Binji Local Government Area of Sokoto State and Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“We are determined that the vote of every Nigerian is important and must count.”
Yakubu said that the commission had received preliminary reports and was closely monitoring the situation in Rivers, particularly Bonny and Akoku-Toru Local Government Areas.
“We are similarly awaiting the detailed report from our Imo office particularly in respect of the Owerri Municipal LGA.
“We are also aware of the incidents in some parts of Lagos, particularly Okota,” he said.
Yakubu said that INEC was also aware of incidence of intimidation, abduction, hostage-taking and violence unleashed on election officials in some states like Akwa Ibom and the burning of a vehicle conveying materials used for Saturday’s election in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi.
“Some Youth Corps members serving as ad hoc staff were also attacked in Osun,” he said.
Yakubu also disclosed that the commission received reports of voters who presented genuine PVCs read by the SCRs but were not allowed to vote because their names were not on voter register.
“We have been confronted by such a situation in one of the off-season elections conducted by the Commission.
“For this reason, we made a clear provision in our draft Regulations and Guidelines to allow such voters to vote.
“However, when the draft was discussed with stakeholders, the clause was rejected on the grounds that it will encourage voting by identity theft. We dropped it,” he said.
The chairman also disclosed that the commission’s attention had also been drawn to the omission of the logo of the African Action Congress (AAC) from the ballot paper for Lagos East Senatorial District.
“We have checked our record and confirmed the inadvertent omission. We have contacted the Chairman of the party to acknowledge the error.
“The omission is inadvertent and it is one out of 23,316 nominations for elections into 1,558 constituencies,” he said.
Asked on his view about performance of the security agencies, Yakubu said it was not yet the right time to assess the performance of any institution involved in the election.
He said that he was not aware of cancellation of election result in the FCT, or anybody forcing his way to collation centre to change election result in Rivers.