By Peter Duru, Makurdi

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said efforts are on to ensure that the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Benue state cast their votes in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in charge of the state, Prof. Samuel Egwu who made the disclosure on Tuesday during a stakeholders meeting in Makurdi assured that the Commission was working round the clock to ensure that eligible voters in the state including IDPs were not disenfranchised.

He said, “so there will be Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, voting in Benue state. We know the situation here and this is across five Local Government Areas, LGA; the effected LGAs are Guma, Kwande, Logo, Gwer West and Makurdi.

“I have been to a few of the IDPs camps; I was in Daudu, Guma LGA and we saw the condition under which they are living. And something struck me, even when they are distressed they are prepared to vote.

“And they told us that they were not given enough attention in the past. When we asked them about their Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, they said under the circumstances that they left their homes, many of them did not leave with their PVCs.

“So we are talking to the Commission in Abuja, those that can give us their names and their dates of birth as was used, their data will be identified and their cards reprinted, so that they can vote in the election.”

While assuring that the process was on already to harvest all the necessary information to ensure that the IDPs participated in the elections, the REC said, “we are going to do our best to ensure that they are not excluded from voting.”

Prof. Egwu appealed to politicians to desist from do-or-die politics saying “election is not war, it is not a day to recruit private army to prosecute election war. Election should not be turned into something else. And it is important for everyone to know that for every infraction there is punishment as provided by the law.”

He urged politicians to play the game by the rules while “INEC is allowed to carry out its statutory functions.”

He assured of the determination of the Commission to ensure that citizens had the say on who become their leaders.

Meanwhile the decision of INEC to have the IDPs cast their votes in 2023 did not go down well with some aspirants of All Progressives Congress, APC, who attended the meeting.

The APC senatorial candidate for Benue North West District, Dr. Titus Zam and that of House Representative for Makurdi/Guma constituency, Dickson Tarkighir called for the return of the IDPs to their ancestral homes in order to have them cast their votes from their communities and not the camps.

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