The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said its position on Rivers state chapter of the All Progressives Congress still remains.
The body also said it had commenced the delivery of sensitive and non-sensitive materials for next week’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Public Enlightenment Festus Okoye stated this on Wednesday at a media parley in Abuja.
He said the commission’s position on the Rivers state APC candidates for the National Assembly and governorship elections has not changed.
“What the commission has done is that the commission has taken a position in relation to the issue of Rivers. If anything changes we will meet as a commission and also take a decision.
“But we have taken a decision relating to the issue of Rivers and if anything changes before we take our final decision, the commission will meet and also take a decision, but we have not taken any other decision and we have not repealed our position on the issue of Rivers.”
On the body’s preparations for the polls, he said while the non-sensitive materials were being delivered to local government offices of the commission, the sensitive materials were lodged in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s vaults in the states.
The commission also said under-age candidates should forgo their candidacy in the 2019 elections as the commission would not go against the constitutional stipulation of 35 years for presidential, vice presidential, governorship and deputy governorship candidates.
Okoye said some local governments had already received delivery of non-sensitive materials such as mats, mattress amongst others preparatory to next week’s presidential election.
“The sensitive materials and other non-sensitive materials, sleeping mats, Dunlops and so on, some of these ones have gone to the various local governments. The generating sets that would be used in the various registration areas have also been delivered to them. The generating sets that will be used at the local governments have been delivered to them and then torch lights that will be used by the presiding officers on election day have also been delivered to the various local governments.
“Based on that, we have asked the Resident Electoral Commissioners to beef up security at the various local government offices because some of these offices have started receiving the non-sensitive materials for the conduct of the elections.
“Secondly, the Central Bank of Nigeria in the various states have started sensitive materials for the conduct of these elections. These sensitive materials include ballot papers and result sheets. Elections are just some few days away and if we have not started sending the sensitive materials into the vault of the Central Bank, that means we are not a serious commission.
“So these materials are being delivered on daily basis to the various Central Bank in the various states of the federation. So we are gradually getting ready for the conduct of the elections,” he said.
“On the issue of the PVCs that were burnt in Abia state, Okoye said: “I think the Nigerian people ought to express some level of outrage at what happened in Abia state.
“As a commission, we thought that the era of burning the local government offices or offices of the commission’s had come to an end. We did not know that some will attempt to go and burn local government offices of the INEC.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) as I pointed out have been asked to beef up security at their various local government offices to prevent this type of thing from happening again.
“We have also asked the REC for Abia state to liaise with the various security agencies and bring the perpetrators of this particular act to book. We cannot allow anybody or any individual or group to intimidate the commission into doing what is not right.
“We feel this particular act is an act meant to instill some level of fear into the minds of some of the young persons that have been recruited to conduct this particular election.
“We are not going to be intimidated by this type of act; rather we will be emboldened to do what is right. So those who went to burn the office of the INEC wouldn’t have achieved anything because the commission will continue to follow through with its processes and procedures as we move towards 2019 elections.
“The REC has been asked to compile the names and list of all the burnt PVCs and forward to the commission’s headquarters. If it is possible within the available time to reprint those PVCs that were burnt, the commission will reprint those PVCs and find a way of making sure that the people who own these PVCs and who are ready to collect the PVCs do come forward and collect them.
“We want to reiterate the fact that we are not going to distribute PVCs by proxy. The owners of the PVCs must collect them in person and any individual or group found to be distributing PVCs through proxy will be arrested and prosecuted.”
On the grievances expressed by the Road Transport Employers Association (RTEAN) for being left out in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the lifting of personnel and materials on election days, Okoye said INEC would not sign MoU with a transport union in crisis.
“What INEC signed with the various transport unions is MoU. The RECs and the various electoral officers in the various states have also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the local unions and also with the transporters themselves, the owners of these vehicles.
“The Independent Electoral Commission will not enter into any MoU with any union that is in crisis because we don’t want to inherit crisis in any union.
“So we are entering into MoU with unions that have no challenges and we are also entering into MoU with the various transporters, those who are going to provide the vehicles on the election day.”
Rules out Niger IDPs
In a related development, Niger REC Professor Sam Egwu has disclosed that there will be no Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) voting in the state because INEC does not recognise any IDP camp in the state.
Egwu stated this Wednesday while interacting with newsmen at the Niger state INEC office in Minna.
He declared that INEC did not include the state among those captured for IDP voting and that no preparation had been done in that regard.
“IDP voting will not take place in Niger state. We have never recorded any official IDP camp in the state, so none has been recognised so far. Those who were said to be displaced have returned back to their homes where they can vote. ”
He said only 6,436 out of 22,839 who requested for transfer of Permanent Voter Cards had collected their PVCs and called on others to ensure they collect theirs before the time elapsed. Egwu stated that there were over 2.39 million eligible voters in the state expected to vote in the forthcoming elections.