No staggered polls in Benue –INEC | Independent Newspapers Limited
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No staggered polls in Benue –INEC

Posted: Apr 10, 2015 at 12:13 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

•Insists on use of Card Readers nationwide

By Tor Vande-Acka —  Makurdi


Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega has rejected the proposal by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Istafanus Dafuang to stagger the governorship and State Houses of Assembly election in the state.

The state REC had proposed that the elections for Benue South and Benue North West be conducted on the same day, while the one for Benue North East, where the state governor, Gabriel Suswam comes from be held on a separate date.

The state REC made this known in Makurdi on Thursday at a stakeholders’ meeting with politicians as well as candidates for the governorship as well as state houses of assembly in tomorrow’s elections.

However Jega who was at the stakeholders meeting insisted that all elections in the state must be held on the same day but was silent on the call for the removal of the state REC by the state Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Emmanuel Agbo.

Jega further pledged that he would ensure tomorrow’s elections are free, fair and a level playing field provided for all participants in the elections.

He explained that the damage done in Benue during the presidential and National Assembly elections were enormous, pointing out that the commission had to replace about 200 card readers in Benue alone.

The INEC Chairman warned that both the ad-hoc and permanent staff of the commission would be held responsible if investigations find them culpable in tomorrow’s elections.

Jega noted that the era of winning elections in the country “by hook or crook” was over.

But without mentioning names, most of the speakers pointed accusing fingers at the state governor, Gabriel Suswam for the issues arising from the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

In his remark, the state REC, Istifanus Dafuang had boasted that he would not serve as commissioner in any other state other than Benue if he were not found fit to serve in Benue.

He had earlier suggested that elections in the state be staggered.

Dafuang said about 26 card readers as well as results from 24 polling units were destroyed during the last elections, adding that the elections were peaceful but that problem started when “some people who were losing” started causing problems.

Also on Thursday, the Commission restated its resolve not to allow Temporary Voter Cards (TVCs) for tomorrow’s elections.

A statement by Kayode Idowu, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, said it has received reports that some political leaders were asking members of the public to disregard its stated resolve to use Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and Smart Card Readers (SCRs) for the governorship and State Assembly elections.

It said particular state governor in the North Central geo-political zone was reported to have assured voters in the state that they could come out to vote on Election Day with TVCs if they do not have the PVCs.

“Members of the public are strongly advised to disregard false assurances that contradict the regulations INEC has outlined for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.

“The commission reaffirms that only voters with genuine PVCs should come out to the polling units on Election Day, and that guidelines issued on the use of SCRs for the April 11 elections will be strictly applied.

“Any action infringing these guidelines will be an electoral offence, and security agents will be on hand to apprehend offenders,” the statement warned.

It lamented a situation where some leaders would misguide the public and thereby prepare ground for needless disruptions to the polling process on April 11.

“INEC hereby warns that any obstruction to the processes it has put in place for the elections by any person, no matter how highly placed, will constitute an electoral offence punishable in law,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the commission has assigned the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Kogi State, Alhaji Hussaini Halilu Pai, to supervise the conduct of the Governorship and State Assembly elections in Kano State, following the tragic demise of Alhaji Minkala Abdullahi last weekend.

Before his posting as FCT REC, Alhaji Pai was Ekiti State REC, who conducted the Governorship Election of June 21, 2014.