News2023: INEC Warns Political Parties Against Electoral Act Breach, Puts Registered Voters...

2023: INEC Warns Political Parties Against Electoral Act Breach, Puts Registered Voters At 93.5m

GTBCO FOOD DRINL

October 26, (THEWILL) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties against breach of provisions of the Electoral Act on divisive language in the course of political campaigns, acts of violence and denial of access to public facilities.

Addressing the leadership of political parties on Wednesday, at its regular quarterly meeting, the Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said his Commission was prepared to track campaigns of political parties ahead of the 2023 general elections and prosecute violators of existing laws.

The warnings followed allegations by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar of physical intimidation of his supporters who turned out to attend his rally held last week in Kaduna.

The INEC chairman said his commission was determined to deal with all bottlenecks that could hinder parties and candidates from freely canvassing for the support of the electorate.

He said: “Last week, the commission cautioned political parties, candidates and their supporters to eschew violence during the electioneering campaign. The statement was necessary against the background of clashes among supporters of different political parties, including allegations of denial of access to public facilities and the destruction of billboards and other outdoor campaign materials by acts of thuggery.

“The campaigns have just begun. As party leaders, you should remain committed to peaceful electioneering. We will continue to work together to remove encumbrances to the right of parties and candidates to freely canvass for the support of the electorate. The commission will continue to track the campaigns and will not hesitate to initiate the prosecution of violators as provided by law.”

In an allusion to the move by certain forces to thwart the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation and transmission of results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on election day, Professor Yakubu assured the leadership of the political parties and Nigerians that he would not abort the use of modern technology already backed by the provisions of the Electoral Act despite the sinister move.

He said:” Only last week, we commenced the training of master trainers on election technology to ensure a seamless process. Beginning tomorrow, we will commence the same training at the zonal level and subsequently train all the ad hoc staff for the 176,846 polling units nationwide. On this note, let me once again reassure Nigerians that there is no going back on the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation.

“There is no going back on the transmission of results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on Election Day. There will be no Incident Form that enables ineligible persons to vote using other people’s Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) during elections. We are committed to ensuring that the 2023 General Election is transparent and credible, reflecting the will of the Nigerian people.”

On the voter’s register for the conduct of the next general elections, the INEC chairman put the total statistics at 93,522,272.

According to his breakdown, a total of 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters.

“The 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The Preliminary register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272.

“It is preliminary because Section 19(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the commission to display the hard copies of the register of voters for each registration area (Ward) and Local Government Area (and simultaneously publish the entire register on the commission’s website) for a period of two weeks for scrutiny, claims and objections by citizens not later than 90 days to a General Election.

“Accordingly, in the next few days, the commission will print 9,352,228 pages of the register. The hard copy will be displayed for each of the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Areas nationwide while the entire register will be published on our website for claims and objections as required by law.

“The display of the physical register will take place at the designated centres from Saturday 12th – Friday 25th November 2022. Further details, including the procedure for filing claims and objections, will be released by the commission next week. I would like to appeal to all Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the display to scrutinize the list and help us to clean it up further so that the final register of voters for the 2023 general election can be compiled and published.”

In his remarks, the presidential candidate of the Action Democratic Party(ADP) and Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, Yabagi Yusuf Sani, assured the INEC Chairman of support of political parties for his commission deployment of modern technology which he noted was aimed at deepening the integrity of the electoral process.

Sani declared that the alleged plot to remove Professor Yakubu from INEC was not targeted at him but “the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, the Electronic Transfer of results and the other security devices INEC has deftly and painstakingly put in place to enhance the integrity of the electoral process.”

“The spurious allegations they are orchestrating especially in the online platforms are part of the strategies to prepare the grounds for their planned onslaught to achieve their nefarious goal within legal frameworks.

“It is also aimed at blackmailing and intimidating Professor Mahmoud Yakubu to surrender by compromising the stance of the Commission on the strident, airtight security measures against the maladies of rigging and other electoral malpractices that had perennially tarnished the integrity of elections in the country in the past.

“However, we believe that they will not have their way no matter their desperation and whatever their pranks and machinations. The use of technology in the conduct of elections in Nigeria has become sacrosanct and fait accompli Every player in the country’s power game must come to terms with the new reality that, they can no longer rig elections brazenly and with impunity.

“Mr Chairman sir, you can count on the usual support of IPAC, and as it is, the goodwill and backing of most citizens of the country in the present circumstance.

“We urge you to remain steadfast and strong in the consciousness that you have your hard-earned reputation to protect; that the eyes of the entire nation and indeed, the wider global community are keenly focused on you.

“At the end of the day, your choice on the issues currently at stake will go far in defining your legacy, long after our generation. In other words, history beckons on you. May the Almighty God guide and provide you with the needed strength and wisdom to weather the storm.”

In attendance at the meeting were Senator Iyiola Omisore, National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Professor Ahmed Rufai Alkali, National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP); Victor Oye, national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC); amongst others.

However, the Peoples Democratic Party was not represented at the session.

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