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1.5 millions and 889,308 voters to participate in Kogi and Bayelsa guber polls

...INEC creates additional PUs, adjusts Constituencies in 2020

At least 1, 485, 828 registered who have collected their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) will participate in the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State while 889,308 will vote in the Bayelsa State governorship election holding on the same day.

The election in Kogi will take place in 2, 548 Polling Units and Collated in 239 Registration Areas; while 23 Political Parties will be on the ballot for the governorship election and 24 Political Parties will be on the ballot for the Kogi West Senatorial District Election. Of the total number of registered voters.

In Bayelsa, voting will take in 1,804 Polling Units with collation in 105 Registration Areas and supplementary election will be conducted in six polling units in the Brass 1 Constituency of the State.

Festus Okoye, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee made this known in address at a Dialogue Session with Resident Electoral Commissioners of Bayelsa and Kogi States ahead of the Governorship elections in Abuja.

According to him, the Dialogue Session provides an opportunity for civil society groups and organizations preparing to observe the elections to interact with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and Security Agencies on their preparedness and strategies for achieving a peaceful governorship election in each of the states.

Okoye said the Commission has trained Supervisory Presiding Officers, Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers in the two (2) States, and the training cover handling of electoral materials, polling day procedures, operating the Smart Card Readers, sorting and counting/ recording votes.

He urged all categories of ad-hoc staff including Collation and Returning Officers to pay close attention to their trainers as sorting, collation, declaration and returns in election are simple and at the same time complex.

“Innocuous mistakes and alterations that may be overlooked in certain and normal circumstances sometimes lead to fatal consequences in the electoral process.

“Majority of our ad-hoc staff performed creditably in the last general elections and other previous elections and we commend their commitment and patriotism. However, the Commission has banned some ad-hoc staff who abused the trust reposed on them during the 2019 general elections”, Okoye noted.

He stated that due to the election security and given the challenges of topography in the two states and their unfortunate history of electoral violence, INEC have mapped out strategies of degrading threats to the conduct of elections and ensuring the safety of materials and personnel.

The National Commission said INEC is also in consultation and partnership with the Nigerian Navy and Airforce for the purposes of providing security for its personnel and materials while it has embarked on sustained and targeted voter education, stakeholder engagements and peace building initiatives.

“The Voter Education Department of the Commission has also engaged Women and Youth groups, the Traditional Institutions, PWD groups and held sensitization forums for volunteer sign language interpreters to assist hearing impaired voters. In addition, assistive aids such as magnifying glasses have also been procured”, he disclosed.

Okoye urged all political parties, the candidates in the election and all the major stakeholders to respect and protect the right of the registered voters to free choice as voters must be allowed to go to the polling units unmolested, without fear, without intimidation and without being harmed.

He warned that the Commission will not accept or tolerate any form of harm on its ad-hoc electoral personnel and will on no account tolerate siege on its Collation Centers or the declaration and returns made under dubious circumstances.

“While the Commission will move for greater clarity relating to the powers of its Collation/ Returning Officers, it has put in place  better processes and procedures that will  prevent the violation of the powers to make declarations and return under the provisions of section 68 and 75 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended)”, the National Commissioner maintained.

Okoye announced that by the 1st Quarter of 2020, the Commission will consult critical stakeholders and take bold and courageous steps and decisions on the creation of additional polling units and alterations and or adjustment of Constituencies.

He said the Commission can no longer continue with the ad-hoc procedure of creating Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements which in the main are stop-gap measures to ease the voting process and create opportunities for people in new settlements not covered by previous polling units.

The INEC Chief Spokesman stated that the Commission will also work collaboratively with the National Assembly and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation in effecting reforms to the electoral legal framework.

“Regression are ever present in reforms and civil society groups and organizations must constantly and continuously push the frontiers of reform, husband incremental gains and sustain gains already made. This can only be done through rational and knowledge-based interventions in the electoral process.

“There are no alternatives to facts and civil society-initiated bills or those initiated by the Executive or members of the National Assembly must be monitored closely in terms of what was initiated and what was passed and assented to by the President. Senor Lawyers and some Political Parties made fundamental mistakes in the determination of when the cause of action arose in some pre-election matters and some Political Parties filed the nomination of under aged candidates because they did not pay close attention to or were not aware of the fine details of the 4th Alteration to the Constitution.

“We urge the Nigerian people to have faith in the electoral process and work towards democratic consolidation. Courts and the Tribunals are only democratic mechanisms of electoral conflict resolution. The Courts and the Tribunals are handmaids of the electoral process and exist to correct mistakes and allow genuinely aggrieved litigants and petitioners have their day in Court”, he added.

 

James Kwen, Abuja 

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