L-R: INEC National Commissioner (Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti), Prof. Lai Olurode; INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega; Chairman, Ekiti State Council of Obas, Oba Adamo Babalola; INEC Deputy National Commissioner, North Central Dr. Nuru Yakubu; and Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ekiti, Alh. Hussaini Halilu Pai, during the Election Statkeholders’ Meeting, in Ado-Ekiti.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has assured Nigerians that the electoral fiasco witnessed in the November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State will not be repeated in June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State.
Jega who gave the assurance at an Election Stakeholders Meeting held with representatives of political parties in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Wednesday disclosed that the Commission is working on measures to improve the Voters Register to prevent disenfranchisement of voters in the forthcoming Ekiti governorship poll.
Describing the Anambra experience as a “hullabaloo”, Jega revealed that INEC is working very hard to make the Ekiti governorship election the best ever conducted in the history of the country in a bid to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the electoral process. He assured that the Ekiti election will reflection the wishes of the electorate.
The meeting was attended by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and Interim Deputy National Chairman of the APC, Hon Bello Masari, former Ekiti State Governor and National Vice Chairman of APC, Otunba Niyi Adebayo ; Interim National Secretary of APC, Alhaji Tijani Tumsah; Director general of the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation, Hon Bimbo Daramola; State APC Interim Chairman, Chief Olajide Awe; Secretary to the State Government, Alahji Ganiyu Owolabi. Others were the state chairman of the PDP , Makanjuola Ogundipe and Labour Party Chaire, Akin Omole. Some members of the state executive council and house of assembly members were also in attendance at the well attended parley.
The nation’s number one electoral officer, however, warned politicians against making frivolous statements that cannot be substantiated as not to heat up the polity ahead of the election.
Jega, was apparently referring to a comment made by a former Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose who accused INEC of plotting with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig the June 21 election.
INEC National Commissioner in charge of South West, Prof. Lai Olurode, was the first to react to Fayose’s allegation. He warned politicians in Ekiti against making reckless statements maintaining that the allegation has no iota of truth.
Olurode said: “The door of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) is open to all parties and I want to appeal to you to refrain from making frivolous and unsubstantiated allegations. If you are not satisfied with REC’s explanation, my office and that of INEC Chairman is open to you 24 hours on any issue that needs your clarification.
”INEC has no ally, no anointed leader, no interest in who emerges as governor of Ekiti State at the election. If you have any fact, make it available to INEC and it will be promptly investigated.
”We must avoid making reckless statements, this allegation that we held meeting with APC leaders in Lagos is not true, the allegation has no iota of truth. Since the appointment of this Management, we have not done anything that has tainted our image or impugned on our integrity”.
Corroborating Olurode’s defence of INEC against Fayose’s allegation, Jega said his agency will not take politicians making allegations serious until they produce evidence to substantiate their allegations.
To demonstrate the readiness of INEC to be impartial and non-partisan, Jega revealed that a Resident Electoral Commissioner who was indicted by a Court of Appeal judgment was asked to leave the electoral agency.
Jega said: “The only REC (Resident Electoral Commissioner) asked to step aside was the one who was indicted by the Court of Appeal.
”If you have anything against any of us, come out with evidence and don’t distract us with spurious and unsubstantiated allegations because we want the system to keep on going.
”We will do our best to remain focused, we welcome constructive criticisms. We will take abuses until our stomachs are full and we can no longer stomach them.
”We will do our best to remain impartial, non-partisan and to do our best. Anyone working against what we stand for shall be dealt with. We are doing our best to make the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State the best.”
Describing Ekiti as one of the states with largest enlightened voter population, Jega advised the people of the state to put their enlightenment into good use in the impending election so that votes will not be wasted.
As part of measures to improve on the flawed Anambra polls, Jega explained that all political parties in Ekiti will be given a copy of updated Voters Register to scrutinize and ‘interrogate’ the document.
Jega pointed out that the Commission has succeeded in eliminating multiple voting in the Voter Register adding that result sheets are now customized.
According to him, moving result sheets from one polling unit to the other no longer works as INEC has succeeded in check mating unscrupulous politicians from gaining undue advantage.
He further disclosed that Ekiti will be the first state in the federation where permanent voters cards will be used for any election starting with the June gubernatorial polls.
The INEC boss clarified that those whose names are not on Voter Register will not get permanent voters cards just produced by the Commission but they will still be allowed to exercise their franchise at the election with the temporary voter cards.
Jega disclosed that those who have attained the minimum voting age of 18 years will be captured during the Continuous Voters Registration exercise scheduled to hold between 12th and 19th of March.
Voters Verification exercise and distribution of permanent voters cards is slated for 7th-9th of March, according to the electoral chief.
Expressing dismay with the display of campaign billboards and posters in Ado-Ekiti and other parts of the state, Jega described the action as clearly illegal warning politicians that they could be prosecuted for such action.
He advised politicians to play the game according to the rules urging them to go and remove such billboards and posters to avoid being prosecuted in accordance with extant electoral laws of the land.
Lamenting on the incidence of mutiple registration, Jega declared readiness of the Commission to prosecute culprits saying such prosecution will start in Ekitu before the conduct of the governorship polls.
He also assured that no party’s name or logo will be missing from the ballot papers to allow an all-inclusive election that will stand the test of time.
Jega charged traditional rulers to assist the Commission to appeal to their subjects to maintain peace saying the national and global interest cannot be sacrificed for personal interests of politicians who want to win election at all cost.
He enjoined parties to field credible agents who cannot be bought over by more privileged parties to ensure credible polls.
Ekiti State Government Press Release
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