Kogi and Bayelsa States 2019 Governorship Elections
Countdown to Saturday, 2 November 2019, 08:00:00 (Lagos time)

Press Release

INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION

TIMETABLE AND SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES FOR KOGI AND BAYELSA STATES 2019 GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS

The tenure of the Governor of Kogi State will expire on the 26th day of January, 2020 while the tenure of the Governor of Bayelsa State will expire on the 13th day of February, 2020. Pursuant to the provisions of Section 178(1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25 (7) and (8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), the earliest date for the election into the office of Governor, Kogi State, shall be the 31st day of August, 2019 and the latest date for the election shall be the 28th day of December, 2019. For Bayelsa State, the earliest date for the election to the office of Governor shall be the 17th day of September, 2019 and the latest date for the election shall be the 15th day of January, 2020.

By virtue of Section 178(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25(8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), election into the Office of a State Governor shall hold not earlier than One Hundred and Fifty (150) days and not later than Thirty (30) days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder. The Commission is, by virtue of Section 30(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), expected to issue Notice for the election not later than ninety (90) days before the date of the election.

In exercise of the powers conferred on the Independent National Electoral Commission (hereinafter referred to as “the Commission”) by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and of all other powers enabling it in that behalf, the Commission hereby issues this Timetable and Schedule of Activities for Governorship Elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States:

 

S/N ACTIVITY DATE REMARKS
1 Notice of election

 

1st August, 2019

 

Section 30 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides not later than 90 days before the election.
2 Collection of Forms CF001, CF002 for the election by Political Parties at INEC Headquarters. 2nd August, 2019

 

Collection by Political Parties to be issued to their candidates.
3 Conduct of Party Primaries including resolution of disputes arising from the Primaries. 2nd August – 29th August, 2019

 

To enable Political Parties democratically nominate candidates for the election as required by Section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010.
4 Commencement of campaign by Political Parties in public. 2nd August, 2019

 

Section 99(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides 90 days before polling day.
5 Last day for submission of Forms CF001 and CF002 at the INEC Headquarters. 3rd September, 2019

 

Section 31(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides for not later than 60 days before the election.
6 Publication of Personal Particulars of candidates (CF001) and list of candidates. 10th September, 2019

 

Section 31(3) of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides for publication within 7 days of the receipt of Form CF001.
7 Last day for withdrawal by candidate(s)/replacement of withdrawn candidate(s) by Political Parties. 18th September, 2019

 

Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides not later than 45 days to the election.

 

8 Last day for the submission of Nomination forms by Political Parties. 2nd October, 2019

 

To enable Political Parties, comply with Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended)
9 Publication of official Register of Voters for the election.

 

3rd October, 2019

 

Section 20 of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides not later than 30 days before the election.
10 Publication of final list of nominated candidates.

 

3rd October, 2019

 

Section 34 of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides at least 30 days before the day of election.
11 Publication of Notice of Poll

 

19th October, 2019

 

Section 46 of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides not later than 14 days before the election.
12 Last day for submission of names of Party Agents for the Election to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC). 19th October, 2019

 

Section 45 of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides not later than 14 days before the election.

 

13 Last day for campaigns

 

31st October, 2019

 

Section 99(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides 90 days for commencement of campaigns by Political parties and end of same 24 hours before polling day.
14 Date of election

 

2nd November, 2019

 

Section 178(1) & (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Section 25(8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) empower the Commission to appoint a date for the Governorship election not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office.

Note: (i) Run-off election to the office of Governor of a State (if any) will be held within 21 days after the announcement of the result of the election in accordance with Section 179 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended – 4th Alteration).

Dated this ………………day of April, 2019

Mrs. Rose Oriaran-Anthony Secretary to the Commission

 

Gentlemen of the press,

Following the issuance of the Time Table and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections in January last year, the Commission successfully undertook all planned activities, culminating in the conduct of all but a few of the 1,558 offices and legislative seats.Certificates of Return have been given to the President-elect, Vice-President Elect and members-elect of the National Assembly.

PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATES OF RETURN TO GOVERNORS-ELECT

Certificates of Return in respect of Governors-elect shall be presented by supervising National Commissioners of the respective states between Wednesday 27th and Friday 29th March 2019. They will be assisted by Resident Electoral Commissioners and Legal Officers of the Commission.

The precise date for the presentation in each state shall be made known by the respective Resident Electoral Commissioners after consultation with the supervising National Commissioners

For the State Houses of Assembly, the date of presentation of Certificates of Return to the respective winners will be announced in due course.

SUPPLEMENTARY ELECTIONS

  1. Supplementary elections will be conducted in 18 states of the federation on 23rd March 2019. Details of the states and constituencies where the elections will take place will be uploaded on our website before the close of work today.
  2. All observers and the media accredited by the Commission to cover the 2019 general elections are free to observe the elections. They will have unimpeded access to the material distribution centres, polling units and collation centres.
  3. Arising from the meeting held on 19th March 2019 between INEC and security agencies, the latter have given the assurances of adequate security, professional conduct and unimpeded access to all levels of the election and collation centres.
  4. The INEC Situation Room will be activated on Saturday 23rd March 2019. Nigerians can reach the Commission via 0700-2255-4632 and its social media platforms (twitter: @inecnigeria; Facebook: INEC Nigeria).
  5. The Commission encourages all registered voters in the areas where elections will be conducted to come out and cast their ballots. We also appeal to all stakeholders for continuous support.

PENDING CASES IN BAUCHI AND ADAMAWA

The Commission has conducted governorship elections in 29 states and returns have been made in 22 states. While the election was suspended in Rivers, it was declared inconclusive in 6 states namely Bauchi, Adamawa (North East); Benue and Plateau (North Central) and Sokoto and Kano (North West).

Following the inconclusive governorship elections in the 6 states, the Commission fixed supplementary elections for the 23rd of March 2019.

The supplementary governorship election earlier scheduled to hold in Bauchi state is now a subject of litigation, which was initiated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Mohammed A. Abubakar. An interlocutory injunction to suspend the process has been served on the Commission by the Federal High Court, Abuja. While the Commission has complied in accordance with its policy to obey all court orders in deference to the rule of law, it has also taken urgent steps to vacate the order and dismiss the action.

It should however be noted that the litigation and consequential order only affect the collation of results for the governorship election in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area. Consequently, the supplementary elections will proceed as scheduled on Saturday 23 March in the other 15 Local Government Areas of Bauchi state as well as the Kirfi State Constituency Supplementary Election in Kirfi Local Government Area.

Similarly, the Adamawa State High court issued an injunction restraining the Commission from proceeding with the supplementary election following the application by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a registered political party which did not take part in the main election. While the Commission has also complied with the order, it has equally taken steps to vacate it and dismiss the action.

Notwithstanding the legal action over the Supplementary Governorship election, elections will hold in Nassarawo/Binyeri State Constituency in Mayo – Belwa Local government area where the election had to be countermanded following the death of a candidate before the polls, as well as the supplementary State Constituency election and Uba/Gaya State Constituency in Hong Local Government Area.

RESUMPTION OF ELECTORAL PROCESS IN RIVERS STATE

Following the violent disruption of the electoral process in Rivers during the Governorship and State Assembly elections on 9th and 10th March 2019, the Commission was compelled to suspend the process.

The Commission set up a Fact-Finding Committee that visited Rivers State and submitted its report which revealed that while election could not hold in a few areas, it was successfully concluded in others with the declaration of winners in 21 state constituencies. Collation was on-going at the time of the suspension of the process. The activities and timelines for the resumption and conclusion of the process are as follows:

Detailed Timelines & Activities for Completion of the General Elections in Rivers

S/N Activity Timeline Location/Venue
1 Engagement with security agencies 19thMarch Abuja
2 ICCES meeting (Rivers State) 29th March Port Harcourt
3 Meeting with Stakeholders 30th March Port Harcourt
4 Issuance of Guidelines for resumption of collation of results 1st April INEC Headquarters, Abuja
5 Revalidation of Polling Agents and Observers for collation of results 25th– 31st March Abuja and Port Harcourt
6 Resumption of collation and announcement of results  2nd – 5thApril Port Harcourt (Venue to be agreed with stakeholders)
7 Supplementary elections where necessary 13th April Various locations
8 Announcement of results of all supplementary elections 13th – 15th April Various locations
9 Issuance of all outstanding Certificates of Return Latest 19th of April INEC Office, Port Harcourt

 

Festus Okoye Esq.

National Commissioner and Chairman,

Information and Voter Education Committee

21st March 2019.

INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION

 

PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATES OF RETURN

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will on Thursday 14th March 2019 present Certificates of Return to all successful candidates in the 2019 National Assembly Elections held on 23rd February 2019. The presentation will take place as follows:

 

1.     Venue: Main Hall (Africa Hall), International Conference Centre, Abuja

2.      Time: 10 am (Senators-elect)

                     2 pm (Members of the House of Representatives-elect)

 

All Senators-elect, members of the House of Representatives-elect and their guests are expected to be seated by 9.30am and 1.30pm respectively. All National Assembly members-elect are required to come along with photo identification, such as Permanent Voter’s Card, Nigerian Driver’s License, National Identity Card or International Passport.

 

Each member-elect is entitled to be accompanied by a maximum of five (5) guests only. The National Chairman and National Secretary of political parties that sponsored members-elect are also invited. 

 

NOTE: Only members – elect as listed on the Commission’s website (www.inecnigeria.org) are invited to the ceremony.

 

Journalists, Foreign and Domestic Observers accredited to the National Collation Centre are also invited but must come along with their accreditation tags.

 

Official video and still photographers shall be available. No personal photographers will be allowed into the hall.

 

Parking has been reserved for members-elect and their guests at the Peace Park beside the Abuja International Conference Centre (Zone B) and the Old Parade Ground (Zone C)

 

Signed

Rose Orianran-Anthony

Secretary to the Commission

Since the conduct of the February 23, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections, there has been allegations from certain quarters that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was selective in its use of Smart Card Readers (SCRs) in its conduct of the elections. These allegations have led to speculations that INEC may be forced to jettison their use in the March 9, 2019 Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and Federal Capital Area Council elections.INEC hereby states categorically that the allegations are absolutely false and the speculations are without any basis whatsoever. The use of the Smart Card Reader is not only mandatory but its deliberate non-use attracts the sanction of possible prosecution of erring officials in accordance with the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections. This is in addition to the voiding of any result emanating from such units or areas as was done in the Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, 2019.

The general public and all officials engaged for the elections are hereby informed that the Commission is not reconsidering the use of these Smart Card Readers which has greatly improved the credibility of our elections and instilled a high level of public trust in them.

To clear any doubt or ambiguity, we wish to state that the deployment and mandatory use Smart Card Readers in Saturday’s elections will not only be uniform but also universal, and the provisions of the Regulations and Guidelines will be strictly and vigorously enforced. All Stakeholders are to note and be guided accordingly, please.

Festus Okoye Esq, National Commissioner & Chairman, Information & Voter Education Committee.

Click here to download full documents>> USE OF SMART CARD READERS

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu speaks at a meeting with stakeholders at the Abuja International Conference Centre on Saturday 16th February.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in a session with International Observers
  1. About thirteen hours ago, I conveyed to Nigerians the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reschedule the 2019 general elections by one week. Presidential and National Assembly earlier scheduled for 16th February 2019 will now hold on Saturday 23rd February 2019 while Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections scheduled for 2nd March 2019 will now hold on Saturday 9th March 2019. The one-week adjustment was a painful one for INEC but necessary in the overall interest of our democracy.
  1. Nigerians will recall that when this Commission was appointed in November 2015, we promised two cardinal things. First, we shall work hard to consolidate the improvements made in the management of elections in Nigeria since 2011. Secondly, we shall always be open, transparent and responsive. We have strived diligently to keep these promises in very trying circumstances.
  1. In keeping with our promise to consolidate the gains of the last two electoral cycles, the Commission has conducted 195 re-run and off-season elections across the country since the last general elections. Most of these elections have been generally adjudged to show progressive improvements in planning, execution and outcomes.
  1. This commitment to continue to improve on election administration has informed our preparations for the 2019 general elections. Our goal is to plan carefully, execute meticulously and bring stability into election management in Nigeria. Consequently, we announced fixed dates for elections in Nigeria to the effect that Presidential and National Assembly elections will always hold on the third Saturday in February of an election year, while the Governorship and State Assembly elections follow two weeks later. Having settled this, we began the planning quite early, with a Strategic Plan (SP), a Strategic Programme of Action (SPA) and an Election Project Plan (EPP). In fact, the plan for the 2019 general elections was ready in November 2017 and we subsequently issued the timetable and schedule of activities for the elections over one year ago on 9th January 2018. We carefully followed the timetable and implemented 13 of the 14 activities as scheduled. We kept to the timeframe and have not missed the date fixed for any single activity.
  1. In preparing for the 2019 general elections, we have come face-to-face with the realities of conducting such an extensive national deployment of men and materials in a developing country like ours. It is said that elections constitute the most extensive mobilization of men and materials that any country could undertake in peacetime. The challenges of doing so, even under the best of circumstances, are enormous. Within a period of 16 months, we registered over 14 million Nigerians as new voters, collecting their names, addresses, photographs and their entire ten fingerprints. Beyond that, we prepared, printed and delivered their permanent voter’s cards for collection. I should note that of the 14.28 million Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) made available for collection, about 10.87 million or 76.12% have been collected.
  1. It is often not appreciated the magnitude of activities that the Commission undertakes during general elections. Not only we have recruited and trained about 1 million young people to serve as ad hoc staff, the magnitude of materials mobilized for our elections is enormous. For instance, the Commission has printed 421.7 million ballot papers for six scheduled elections, as well as 13.6 million leaves of result forms for the Presidential election alone. Indeed, managing 91 political parties and 23,316 candidates for whom votes will be cast in 119,973 polling units by over 84 million voters is certainly astounding. No doubt, preparations for the 2019 general elections have been extremely tasking for the Commission.
  1. It is therefore not unexpected that such a tremendous national mobilization of men and materials will encounter operational challenges and we have had our own fair share of such challenges. There has been delays in delivering ballot papers and result sheets for the elections which is not unusual. However, I must emphasize that all the ballot papers and result sheets were ready before the elections despite the very tight legal timeframe for finalizing nomination of candidates and dealing with the spate of legal challenges that accompany it. In this regard, the Commission has been sued or joined in over 640 court cases arising from the nomination of candidates. As at today, there are 40 different court orders against the Commission on whether to add or drop candidates. The net effect of these is that there is usually roughly a one-month window for the Commission to print ballot papers and result sheets and either fly or transport them to several destinations until they finally get to each polling unit. Unfortunately, in the last one week, flights within the country have been adversely affected by bad weather. For instance, three days ago, we were unable to deliver materials to some locations due to bad weather. We therefore had to rely on slow-moving long haulage vehicles to locations that can be serviced by air in spite of the fact that we created five zonal airport hubs – Abuja (North Central), Port Harcourt (South South and South East), Kano (North West), Maiduguri and Yola (North East) and Lagos (South West) to facilitate the delivery of electoral logistics.
  1. Apart from these logistical challenges, we also faced what may well be attempts to sabotage our preparations. In a space of two weeks, we had to deal with serious fire incidents in three of our offices in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, Qu’an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State and our Anambra State Office at Awka. In all three cases, serious disruptions were occasioned by the fire, further diverting our attention from regular preparations to recovery from the impact of the incidents. In Isiala Ngwa South, hundreds of PVCs were burnt, necessitating the re-compiling of the affected cards and reprinting in time to ensure that the affected voters are not disenfranchised. I am glad that all the cards were quickly reprinted and made available for collection by their owners.
  1. In Qu’an Pan Local Government Area, our entire office was razed, destroying all the materials prepared for the elections – printed register of voters, ballot boxes, voting cubicles and several electricity generating sets. 11 Registration Areas and over 100 polling units were affected by the fire. We recovered quickly and have since replaced everything destroyed. In addition, we secured a suitable building from which to conduct the elections.
  1. Perhaps the most serious was the fire incident in our Anambra State Office at Awka, which destroyed over 4,600 Smart Card Readers being prepared for the elections. These Card Readers take at least six months to procure. Despite this setback, we have practically recovered from this by mopping up every available spare SCR across the country and within 24 hours delivered them for elections to hold in Anambra State.
  1. All these challenges mean that there have been differences in preparations from one State to another. Our overall assessment is that if the elections went on as planned, polls will not open at 8am in all polling units nationwide. Yet, we are determined that polls must hold at the same time everywhere in the country. In this way, elections will not be staggered. This is very important to public perception of elections as free, fair and credible. We promised Nigerians that we shall be open, transparent and responsive.
  1. Faced with these challenges, we initially thought that we only require a maximum of 24 hours to resolve the logistics issues involved and complete our deployment for the election. This would mean shifting the elections to commence on Sunday 17th February 2019. However, given the restriction of movement during elections, that could affect many voters who worship on Sundays. While the Commission was considering the following Monday 18th February 2019 as an option, our ICT Department advised us that it would require 5 – 6 days to reconfigure about 180,000 Smart Card Readers earlier programmed to work only on election day – Saturday 16th February 2019. It is for this reason that the Commission decided to adjust the election dates to Saturday 23rd February 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly elections and a consequential adjustment of the Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections to Saturday 9th March 2019.
  1. Some sensitive materials have been distributed. However, all such materials have been retrieved and will be taken back to the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria. I want to assure you that there will be proper audit to account for all materials.
  1. In the next few days, the Commission will work on the basis of the following plan:
  • Completion/confirmation of deployment of materials: Monday 18th February 2019
  • Configuration of the Smart Card Readers – Sunday 17th – Thursday 21st February 2019
  • Receipt and Deployment of sensitive materials to LGAs – Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st February 2019
  • Refresher training for ad hoc staff – Thursday 21st February 2019
  • Deployment of personnel to RACs – Friday 22nd February 2019
  • Election Day – Saturday 23rd February 2019
  1. I want to appeal to Nigerians and all other stakeholders for their understanding in what has been a very difficult decision for the Commission. But we believe that ultimately this is for the good of our democracy and country. I wish to assure you of our commitment to free, fair and credible elections.
  1. As Chairman of INEC, and on behalf of the Commission, we take full responsibility for what happened and we regret any inconvenience our decision might have caused.
  1. Thank you and God bless.

Honourable National Commissioners Resident Electoral Commissioners Senior Officials of the Commission Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It is my pleasure to welcome the Resident Electoral Commissioners to this meeting. I want to especially welcome our new Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bayelsa State, Monday Udoh Tom, who is attending the meeting for the first time.

 

2. Coming just a week to the General Elections, this meeting is convened essentially in order to have a final review of preparations. Yesterday, we had a crucial meeting with the security agencies and the national union representing the road transport workers. Issues of securing the environment for peaceful elections were discussed. Similarly, the issue of logistics, particularly transportation for the delivery of personnel and materials, was discussed.

 

3. At this meeting, we will undertake a comprehensive review of our preparations. Overall, the Commission is ready for the elections. Nevertheless, we are ever ready to fine-tune processes and procedures in order to serve Nigerians better. In the last couple of days, we have been inundated by calls from Nigerians to review the current process of collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards. In response, the Commission has taken the following decisions:

i. The collection of PVCs scheduled to end today Friday 8th February 2019 is hereby extended nationwide to Monday 11th February 2019. This will include Saturday and Sunday.

ii. The collection of PVCs will now take place from 9am to 6pm daily.

iii. All State offices are hereby directed to review the procedure for the collection of PVCs and dedicate all the staff of the Local Government offices to the collection process. Staff are enjoined to be civil in attending to citizens and to escalate issues that they cannot immediately resolve to their superiors.

4. The Commission wishes to reassure Nigerians that we will continue to take every necessary step to ensure that no registered voter is disenfranchised on account of non-collection of PVCs. Similarly, the Commission is taking urgent steps to address complaints of unavailability of the PVCs of some registered voters before the end the deadline for the collection.

 

5. We wish to reiterate that after the deadline of Monday 11th February 2019, all uncollected PVCs will be recalled and deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for safe-keeping until after the General Elections when the collection of cards and the continuous registration of voters will resume.

 

6. Once again, I welcome RECs to this meeting.

 

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has assured members of the Administrative Board of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria on the Commission’s resolve to conduct free, fair and credible 2019 general elections. Speaking at an interactive meeting with the Catholic Bishops on Wednesday evening in Abuja, as part of the nationwide consultation with stakeholders on the Commission’s readiness for the general elections, Prof. Yakubu gave a detailed background of the measures already put in place to ensure a successful outing.
He said the Commission was determined to improve on the gains recorded in the 2015 general elections, just as he affirmed that only the votes cast by citizens would determine the eventual winners at the polls.
Responding to questions, he debunked some media reports making the rounds about the alleged centralisation of the recruitment of Collation and Returning Officers for the elections.
He said there was no basis for the allegation in the first place, since Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) had never handled the recruitment of such officers. Explaining the background, he said: “in order to protect the sanctity of the electoral process, INEC took a decision in 2011 not to recruit Collation and Returning Officers from among its staff, but from senior lecturers and professorial cadre in our Universities.
This is what the Commission has done consistently. The Chairman of the Commission handles this responsibility. He liaises with Vice Chancellors under specific criteria.The Vice Chancellors submits names directly to the INEC Chairman, the submitted names are further vetted, before we finally engage and post them to the states. It is after we have finished with the process of engagement that we liaise with the RECs who then assign the Collation and Returning Officers to local government areas and constituencies where they are going to work. “There was a reason why the Commission took that decision. There was a time in the past when, particularly in the recruitment of Collation Officers and most especially the Returning Officers, some people pandered to the wishes of politicians. The Commission then decided to centralise it and involve not only the universities, but also the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU). “Since 2015, we have conducted elections into 195 constituencies and not on one occasion did the headquarters ask the RECs to recruit Collation or Returning Officers. This is what the Commission has been doing since 2011. I was surprised when I read the report.
However, RECs have the responsibility of recruiting Supervisory Presiding Officers, Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers, mainly from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, and when we have a shortfall, we make it up with students of tertiary institutions. So, there is no change of policy and there is no new policy. There is no truth in the allegation.” On another allegation emanating from certain quarters that the National Register of Voters contains names of under-age or ineligible persons, Prof. Yakubu said that while the current Register was, indeed, not perfect, “it is the largest and most current database of Nigerians with photographs and full biometrics.” According to him, before previous elections, citizens were required to register afresh. But the Commission stopped the practice since 2010. Since then, he stated, the Voters’ Register was updated in 2014 for the 2015 general elections, and also in 2017 and 2018 for the 2019 general elections. He said: “It is robust and easily the largest database of citizens in the country with photographs and full biometrics. We believe that we should continue to clean it up instead of throwing it away and starting a new registration process.” Prof Yakubu also told the Catholic Bishops that the allegations about the existence of under-age persons in the Voters’ Register gained currency after the Local Government election conducted by the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), when the social media was awash with stories, pictures and clips of under-age persons either registering to vote or actually voting during elections. His words: “there was a composite picture on the social media. When we saw it, we were surprised because before the local government election, the Commission had conducted a bye election in the Minjibir State Constituency in Kano.
In that election conducted by INEC, there was no single allegation of the prevalence of underage persons.” Besides, the INEC Chairman observed that each of the registered political parties got a copy of the Voters’ Register since 2011 and none of them had ever complained of the prevalence of under-age voters in the Register. He wondered: “So, what happened in the local government election conducted by a different election management body, the Kano State Independent Election Commissions (SIEC)?” Prof. Yakubu continued: “We set up a committee to investigate it. We asked the committee to decompose the composite picture that circulated on the social media and then, we saw surprises. All the pictures (on social media) had nothing to do with the Kano local government election. Some were pictures of events that happened 11 years ago. The most interesting for me, was the queue of young small boys at an Internally Displaced Camp (IDP) in Bornu state. They were given handouts. They cut the head and tail of the queue and it was presented as young persons voting in the Kano local government elections from the INEC register. Now, even if you have underage persons, you cannot have a polling unit of exclusively for underage persons. We saw this and we responded. I addressed a press conference, and when the agitation continued that we should publish the entire report of the committee, we published it online in March 2018 and since then, we have not heard a single comment.” He also argued that the responsibility of cleaning the Voters’ Register was not INEC’s alone. He said while the law requires the Commission to paste the Register at each polling unit nationwide before the general election for claims and objections, Nigerians and political parties also owe it a duty to draw the Commission’s attention to the names of ineligible persons for rectification. He said: “We have been doing so consistently. After the last one, we received only a few comments from the states, I think 48,000 out of 84 million registered voters. Part of the difficulty is that we are very careful if someone says that one person is dead, because of the experience the Commission had in 2015. We received a letter from one particular political party that a candidate was dead and they submitted a Death Certificate obtained from a government hospital. They also went to court, swore to an affidavit and his family also attested to the fact that the candidate was dead. They filed all these documents at the Commission. A week later, the supposedly dead candidate turned up and said he was alive.” On the National Collation Centre, Prof Yakubu reiterated the difference between the actual collation of the 2019 general elections results and the ad-hoc committee established to put the Collation Centre in place. He likened the Centre to an ordinary Event Centre that would house the Situation Room among others, for which the constituted ad-hoc committee has been saddled with the responsibility to putting all the structures and amenities it needs to function effectively in place. His words: “What is a Situation Room? It is a place where we have our social media platforms, call centres where we take calls to listen to complaints people might have, details of the situation on the field and so on. It is a very boring place. “Since the perception is that we might be up to something, which is why (according to the narratives), the Commission is unwilling to open up the place, we have decided to open up the situation room. We will give visitation rights. “The Chairman of INEC is the Chief Returning Officer for the Presidential Election and I am not going to share that responsibility with anyone.”

 

ISSUED BY: Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to Hon Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Plot 436 Zambezi Crescent, Maitama, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory. Cell: +234 803 791 2525 Twitter: @rot1930 URL: www.inecnews.com

 

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