Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Mahmood Yakubu has stated that only the commission is empowered by law to declare election results.
Yakubu, therefore, urged “everyone to refrain from issuing any result,” and gave the assurance that the commission would “work assiduously to ensure that the collation and declaration of results are done at the various levels expeditiously.”
The INEC chairman stated this Friday at the observers and media briefing in Abuja.
He said: “We have mobilised about 80,000 commercial vehicles and about 996 boats for the deployment of personnel and materials, including 707,892 ballot boxes and voting cubicles, to various land and riverine locations.
“Elections will hold in 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Voting will take place in 176,973 locations made up of 119,973 polling units and 57,023 voting points.
“We have engaged 825,543 ad hoc staff ranging from presiding officers to collation and returning officers. We have mobilised about 80,000 commercial vehicles and about 996 boats for the deployment of personnel and materials, including 707,892 ballot boxes and voting cubicles, to various land and riverine locations.
“We have accredited 120 domestic and 36 international organisations deploying a cumulative total of over 73,000 observers
“We have concluded the movement of personnel and materials to the 774 LGs and 8,809 registration area centres nationwide. All arrangements are now in place to facilitate the opening of polls nationwide at 8am tomorrow.
“Citizens can obtain location directions to their polling units by visiting gotomypu.ng .They will access the location name of their PU and a link to a Google Map that will lead them to the PU.
“In the last 10 days, about 190,000 voters have utilised the various social media platforms to geo-locate their polling units.
“Voting will be by continuous accreditation and voting system (CAVS) procedure and a voter will only be allowed to vote if his/her name is on the register of voters and after the verification of the PVC and authentication of his/her biometrics by the Smart Card Reader (SCR). No genuine PVC, no voting.
“Telephones and other photographic devices may be brought to the polling units, but are not allowed in the voting cubicles. Other stringent measures are in place to combat the menace of vote buying and other sundry electoral malfeasance.
“From there, collation and declaration will take place at designated local government area result collation and declaration centres for federal constituencies and senatorial districts. The final collation and declaration of presidential election results will be done here in this Hall.
“Similarly, the National Situation Room located in this building will open at 6am today to monitor the deployment of personnel and materials across the country and throughout the polling period to receive and respond to enquiries associated with the elections from citizens, as well as electoral officials and other stakeholders.
“The hotline to the National Situation Room is available on our website. The National Collation Centre will open at 6pm on Sunday.
“All polling agents, team leaders for domestic and international observers and the media have been accredited for collation. We urge those who have not collected their access tags to do so at the Taraba Hall of the ICC.
According to the INEC chairman, those that indicated interest in visiting the Situation Room would be admitted based on the following schedule: Media 11am -pm, domestic observers 2-3pm and International observers 5-6pm.
“I appeal to voters to be peaceful and orderly before, during and after the elections. The police, working with other security agencies, have assured us of adequate security for voters, electoral officials, observers, and journalists.
He called for compliance with the restriction of movement for those who are not observers or on essential duty.
INEC boss, IGP read riot act
Meanwhile, the INEC chair has reiterated that under-age voting remains an illegality in the country.
He, therefore, urged members of the public to report any suspected incidence to officials of the commission or any of the security agencies.
Yakubu warned that any under-age person caught trying to be accredited for voting in Saturday’s polls would be arrested.
He said the age requirement for voting was 18 years and that “there is no under-age voting’ in all the elections he had conducted.
He said: “Under-age voting is an illegality because there is a statutory age for registration of voters, but what you should do as a voter if on election day, you find anyone that is apparently over-age or conclusively so, kindly report this to any official of the commission or security agencies.
“Working with the IGP, I say any underage person caught trying to be accredited for voting on Election Day will be arrested.”
“Voting is only open to Nigerian citizen who are of the statutory age of 18. It is an illegality and let me seize this opportunity to warn those who sponsor underage person to vote on the Election Day that they will be arrested.
“And the good thing is that in the numerous elections that this commission has undertaken, we have never had any incident of underage voting.”
Also speaking, acting the inspector-general of police, Mohammed Adamu, reassured of maximum security for INEC officials, observer groups and those who would be on election duties, but warned those intending to disrupt the process to desist from doing so.
Adamu said anybody caught in the course of disrupting the process would be apprehended by the police in conjunction with the officials of INEC.
He said an investigative team headed by the commissioner of police in-charge of legal would be set up to investigate and prosecute them.
Adamu urged both domestic and foreign observers to hang their accreditation tags or risk arrest for failure to do so urging observers to identify and report infiltrators who claim to be observers.
He said: “Voting proper is taking place tomorrow (today). I have explained severally to Nigerians that the security of the electorate, the observers, INEC staff electoral materials are all secured. Maximum security is provided before, during and after the election.
“In the polling booth or polling unit, there will be at least three security personnel will be there to protect the electorate, INEC and electoral material. The personnel there will not be armed and there will be no need for apprehension while the election is going on.
“We have tactical unit of our personnel and other services that will be patrolling everywhere to ensure that the process is not disrupted. And the patrolling personnel will be armed and will deal with anybody who wants to disrupt the process in the course of the election, if any electoral offence is committed, we will work with the INEC officials to apprehend the culprit and set up investigative team headed by commissioner of police in charge of legal to investigate the cases and prosecute them.
“Even when the results are announced, those people are planning to disrupt, we have put strategies in place to prevent that. So, what we require from all Nigerians is to go out peacefully, cast your vote and wait for the announcement of the results.
“If you identify anybody that wants to infiltrate you and claim to be an observer for a group, we will appreciate you exposing such a person for us to remove him or her from your group.”
In a related development, the Kano state Police authorities has invited a member of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumini Jibril Kofa, and confirmed the arrest of at least 70 political thugs for questioning over the bloody violence that ensued between supporters of Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and those of the representative of Kofa federal constituency in Kano state.
Kano state police public relations officer DSP Haruna Abdullahi confirmed that two persons had lost their lives, 20 campaign vehicles burnt to ashes and 18 others critically damaged during the clash.
“Rep Kofa was invited by police for some clarifications. There are some allegations levelled against him and he needs to clarify them with us, hence the invitation,” he said.
Abdullahi said the assistant inspector general in-charge of Zone One Kano and the commissioner of police had visited the village on Friday for fact-findings.
The Inspector-General of Police on Friday in Abuja said the suspects arrested in connection with the killings in Kwara and Kano states had nothing to do with their political parties’ affiliations.
He said the suspects, who happened to be candidates participating in Saturday’s elections, were arrested for having connection with the crisis in the two states, and that they needed to defend themselves.
“We heard of what happened in Kwara, the Commissioner of Police reported that two people were killed and the group of people that were suspected to have perpetrated the killing was arrested.
“And one of them is a candidate of a political party. So, because he is a candidate in the election, should we allow him go without facing the law?
“So, he has been arrested with others; he needs to defend himself as regards to the allegation of the murder.
“We cannot just because he belongs to a political party or is a candidate for election that he was arrested, no.
“The same thing in Kano, we all know that there was a problem in Kano, two people were killed in Kano, some vehicles were burnt down…police had to move to make arrest of people that were committing this crime on the scene.
“In the course if making this arrest, one of the suspects happens to be a candidate in the election that is supposed to take place.
“Do we leave him because he is a candidate? I think he should defend himself; that is why he was arrested.”
The Commissioner of Police in Kwara, Kayode Egbetokun, had earlier confirmed the arrest of the PDP Kwara South Senatorial candidate, Sen. Rufai Ibrahim, over his link with Tuesday’s attack on the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate, Lola Ashiru, in Ojoku.