By Chimezie Godfrey
As the campaigns for the Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states elections intensify, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has decried the spate of violence perpetrated by political parties and their candidates.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stated this at the quarterly consultative meetings held with political parties on Tuesday in Abuja.
Yakubu stressed that free and fair elections can only be achieved in an atmosphere of peace.
He said,”As electioneering campaigns continue to intensify, the Commission reiterates its concern about the spate of violence in the three States involving parties and candidates.
“I wish to remind you as party leaders that free and fair elections are only possible in an atmosphere of peace. After all, election is a process involving human beings as voters, election officials, observers and the media whose safety is of paramount concern to us.
“While we will continue to work with the security agencies in this regard, political parties acting individually or collectively through the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) also have an obligation to impress on your members, candidates and supporters to maintain peace during the campaign rallies and procession.
“I urge you to also appeal to them to maintain the same disposition on Election Day and beyond.”
The INEC Boss disclosed that the Commission has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the elections to the three States.
“The Commission has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the elections to the three States. The training of various categories of ad hoc staff is ongoing. We have made the soft copies of the complete register of voters available to all political parties participating in the elections.
“We conducted the mock accreditation of voters and the upload of results to our IReV portal using the BVAS. Stakeholder engagements are ongoing. Our State offices have concluded the readiness assessment of our facilities as well as the movement of critical facilities to our 56 Local Government offices across the three States.
“At the same time, political parties have uploaded the names of their polling and collation agents to the dedicated web portal.
“As I informed Nigerians at the meeting with our Resident Electoral Commissions (RECs) last week, a total of 137,934 agents made up of 130,093 polling and 7,841 collation agents have already been uploaded to the portal. However, not all the political parties have nominated agents for all the polling units and even the collation centres in the three States.
“In the next few days, the Commission will publish the detailed distribution of agents uploaded by all political parties for public information.
“I urge you to consider the submission of names of agents as important as the nomination of candidates for election.”
He added,”I am glad to report that the printing of agents’ identity cards will be completed this weekend. This will allow political parties ample time to distribute the cards to their agents. All the identity cards are QR Code-readable to ensure maximum security and to avoid impersonation by unaccredited persons.”
He also expressed concern over the spate of recent judgements and court orders in respect of the nomination, substitution or disqualification of candidates after all the sensitive materials have been printed.
“On the issue of candidature, the Commission is concerned about the spate of recent judgements and orders of court in respect of the nomination, substitution or disqualification of candidates after all the sensitive materials have been printed.
“The reprinting of the materials in compliance with court orders within a short period of time is not only expensive but the management of the process very challenging. Although the Commission has already published the final list of candidates for the three States, four recent court orders have compelled us to review the list. These changes have been reflected in the updated list of parties and candidates on our website.
“However, this decision is without prejudice to any pending appeal by the affected candidates or their political parties,” he said.