By Emmabuel Oloniruha
#TrackNigeria: The Independent National Electoral Commisslon (INEC) has fixed March 9 for supplementary elections into areas where elections did not hold or returns could not be made in the Feb. 23 national election.
A statement issued by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner, said that the supplementary elections would hold in affected areas alongside the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly and the FCT Area Council Elections on March 9.
Okoye, who is also Chairman of INEC Information and Voter Education Committee, said that the decision was reached at the commission’s meeting with its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Thursday in Abuja.
“Consequently, the meeting decided that supplementary elections will be conducted in all areas where elections did not take place and/or where returns could not be made on Saturday March 9 alongside the governorship and state houses of assembly elections,” he said
Okoye said that the meeting reviewed the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly Elections and assessed its preparations for the state and the FCT Area Council Elections.
“The meeting acknowledged the delays in the commencement of elections in a number of polling units which necessitated the extension of the closing of polls in the affected areas.
“The Commission is determined to rectify the identified challenges before the elections on March 9.
“The meeting noted a number of cancellations in certain areas due to violence, which prevented the Commission from deploying personnel and materials for the elections.
“In a number of locations, it could not conclude the elections due to disruptions and deliberate non-compliance with the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCRs) contrary to lNEC regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections,” he said.
Okoye said that the meeting also assessed the role of security agencies in the elections.
He said that while acknowledging their professionalism in the deployment of election personnel and materials in a safe and timely manner, the conduct of certain members of the security agencies in some states was a matter of serious concern to the Commission.
Okoye added that the matter would be further discussed directly with the lnspector-General of Police within the ambit of the lnter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in preparation for the governorship, state houses of assembly and the FCT area council elections.
Okoye said that although the elections were generally peaceful, the meeting observed and decried the high level of violence in some places.
This, according to the INEC commissioner, regrettably led to fatalities in some states, in addition to the subjugation of some of INEC electoral officials to threats, harassment, intimidation, assault, abduction and even rape.
“The Commission condoles with the families of its ad hoc staff who lost their lives while on this national assignment, as well as other Nigerians who died in the course of the elections.
“It also expresses its deep regrets to and sympathy for all victims of this mindless violence. We stand with them in these difficult times,” he added.
Okoye said that the RECs had been directed to submit comprehensive reports of those incidents to the Commission for appropriate action.
Okoye said that the meeting also considered and received updates on preparations for the elections slated for state and the FCT.
“The commission expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness and the deployments of sensitive and non-sensitive materials scheduled for delivery to the Registration Area Centres (RACS) on Friday, March 8 and noted that this was on course.
“Going forward, RECs are further directed to engage with and provide regular updates to stakeholders on the state of preparations for the elections, ” he said. (NAN)