Despite loss of PVCs, election materials, INEC insists elections will hold
Despite fire outbreaks at three offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that has claimed thousands of permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) and other election equipment, the Nigeria electoral body said it has no plans to postpone the elections.
“In relation to these particular elections, we had some challenges yesterday (Tuesday), but we were able to recover, and as I speak, we are moving all the Smart Card Readers required for the conduct of elections in Anambra State and we are not going to postpone the election in any part of Nigeria on grounds of some of these challenges,” INEC chairman Mahmoud Yakubu said.
Yakubu, who was represented by one of INEC’s national commissioners, Festus Okoye, spoke at the unveiling of a central election monitoring hub for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
INEC offices in three states of the country- Plateau, Abia and recently Anambra, were engulfed by fire outbreaks, all within ten days to Nigeria’s 2019 general elections.
He noted that fire outbreaks that gutted election materials in three of its offices across the federation constituted a setback to its earlier arrangements for smooth conduct of the 2019 polls but will not stop elections from commencing.
However, he insisted that the setback was not such that could significantly affect the election process, saying the commission had since made alternative plans to replace over 4, 695 Card Readers that were destroyed on Tuesday at INEC’s warehouse in Anambra State.
Yakubu assured Nigerians that “INEC will be open and transparent throughout the entire election process.”
“We are going to be upfront with information relating to our processes and our procedures. Where ever we have challenges, we are going, to be honest with the Nigerian people relating to our challenges,” Yakubu said.
The general election begins with presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 16.
INEC’s readiness to conduct the elections has been in doubts following the destruction of election materials- ballot boxes, generators filled with fuel, cubicles, newly printed electronic and manual voters register, unclaimed PVCs and other valuable materials were affected in the incident.
Confirming the first fire outbreak in Plateau State, INEC head of voter education and publicity in the state, Osaretin Imahiyereobo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said “The office is completely burnt to ashes with all the valuables in it destroyed”
INEC did not state the amount of PVCs and other election materials in the office at Qua’anpan Local Government Area of Plateau State.
In Abia State, the electoral body also confirmed that 319 Permanent Voter Cards were burnt at its office in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of the state.
INEC’s head of voter education and publicity Godfrey Achibie, who confirmed the incident, dismissed reports in some section of the media that over 15,000 PVCs were destroyed by the fire incident.
In Anambra State, the state electoral officer Nkwachukwu Orji said smart card readers and other sensitive materials were in the burnt containers, which according to him had been in use by INEC since 2011.
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