The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has foreclosed any adjustment to its arrangement for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections on account of recently delivered court judgments.
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Lokoja, during a stakeholders’ meeting/signing of peace accord among political parties and candidates, also assured INEC was ready to conduct next Saturday’s election.
He declared all non-sensitive materials had been delivered to the commission’s office in Lokoja while the sensitive materials had been delivered to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The INEC boss also emphasised the essential value of the Smart Card Readers (SRC), saying their use is mandatory in accordance with the regulations and guidance of the commission for the conduct of elections.
Yakubu however, appealed to all stakeholders to help the INEC in making the exercise a peaceful and successful exercise, saying that all the efforts of the commission to deliver a free, fair and peaceful election require the support and commitment of all stakeholders.
According to him: “I would like to assure the people of Kogi State that our preparations will not be affected by the judgement delivered five days ago in which a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the Commission to include a political party on the ballot.
“Although the judgement is at variance with the decision of another Federal High Court in Abuja delivered ten days earlier which affirmed the propriety of the Commission’s action in a similar case by another political party, INEC has a consistent record of obeying court orders.
“However, we will consider legitimate steps to address the conflicting judgements by courts of coordinate jurisdiction in the interest of our electoral jurisprudence.
“Furthermore, with four days to the Governorship elections, two more cases challenging the decision of the Commission on the validity of candidates’ nominations have been reserved for judgement in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
“In addition, there are twelve (12) cases of intra-party disputes filed by aspirants from different political parties challenging the conduct of their own primaries and nomination of candidates, some of which have been reserved for judgement in the next few days.
“I must admit that the plethora of court cases and conflicting judgements delivered on the eve of elections in Nigeria are stressful to the Commission and costly to the nation.
“However, I wish to reassure the people of Bayelsa and Kogi States that learning from experience, the Commission has taken steps to ensure that the elections on Saturday in the two States are not affected by any eleventh hour judgement.
“With only four days to the election, how prepared is the Commission? The short answer is that we are ready.
“So far, the Commission has successfully implemented 12 out of our 14-point plan for the election as required by law.
“The Commission has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the election to our office here in Lokoja.
“The sensitive materials for the Governorship and Kogi West Senatorial Re-run elections are also ready.
“As usual, they are being handled by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The normal process of inspection and distribution of sensitive materials within the State will be done in the presence of party agents, security agencies, observers and the media.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Kogi State will communicate the date and time for stakeholders’ inspection and the arrangements for deployment in line with the Commission’s established procedure.
“For emphasis, let me reiterate that the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) have been configured.
“It is mandatory to use the SCRs for voter accreditation and authentication in line with the Commission’s regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections.
“Let me also reiterate that voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law.
“The ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.”