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INEC to stop storing sensitive materials with CBN

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Cornelius Essen (Abuja), Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti) and Gloria Nwafor (Lagos)
05 June 2022   |   4:12 am
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has declared that it would no longer store sensitive electoral materials in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

[FILES] INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. Photo; TWITTER/INECNIGERIA

• Reveals It Won’t Print Ballot Papers For 2023 Abroad
• Detects 47,633 Voters Double Registration In Ekiti Ahead Guber Poll
• YIAGA Urges Commission To Extend Voters’ Registration Process

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has declared that it would no longer store sensitive electoral materials in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Yakubu disclosed this yesterday at a symposium tagged, “The Electorate: A Conversation on Elections in Nigeria,” held at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.

He said in the interim, the CBN would no longer be in charge of election materials beginning with the Ekiti state governorship election.

Sensitive materials stored with the CBN during elections include ballot papers, results sheets, and braille ballot guide for visually-impaired persons, among others.

The development came following the controversy surrounding the interest of the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, to contest the 2023 presidential election under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

“We are not going to use the CBN for Ekiti elections. The materials will be moved from our headquarters in Abuja to the airport and then to our state office,” Yakubu said at the event.

On another hand, as Ekiti state prepares for its June 18 governorship election, INEC has detected 47, 633 voter double registration on its portal.

The Commission averred that such people have had their registration invalidated to prevent double voting during election, using the Bimodal Voter Authentication System (BVAS) invented to sanitise its registers.

INEC’s head of department, Information and Communication Technology, Titilayo Oderinde, gave the starling revelation in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, during a day training workshop organised for journalists in preparation for the impending governorship poll.

Oderinde, who elucidated on the BVAS application and its significance to the credibility of elections, said no individual could exercise double franchise during election with the help of the ICT innovation.

“During the just concluded Continuous Voter Registration exercise declared by INEC for intending voters to update their registration, a total of 124,963 persons registered in Ekiti.

“But it will marvel you that when the number was subjected to BVAS scrutiny, a total of 47,633 were discovered to have registered twice and got expunged from the register.

“Though, the commission was lenient, in that only one of the double registrations was struck out, leaving one for the voter to exercise his/her franchise,” Oderinde said.

Meanwhile, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa has called on INEC to extend the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) by an additional two or three weeks to enable more voters perform their civic rights during the 2023 general elections.

Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, at a roundtable with youth groups and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) based in Lagos, said he believes that an extension of the process will not contravene the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act nor affect INEC timetable in the negative.

The group, which lamented the low rate of PVC collection, attributed it to low level of awareness by INEC.

Itodo urged INEC to do more in informing registered voters when the PVCs are ready by engaging in PVC distribution in communities rather than going through radio or television announcements only.

He urged INEC to fast track the printing of PVCs so that it can get to the electorates on time.

He revealed that as part of efforts to mobilise young people to vote, the group was organising a YouthVoteCount, which seeks to bring over 25,000 youths together at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) on June 11 to register and collect their PVCs, as well as to get ready for the 2023 elections.

He said the event would be in partnership with the CSOs, youth groups and music artistes to draw young people to come out en mass.

The CSOs urged INEC to remove every bottlenecks and hitches people encounter in the process of getting ready for the elections. They also implored INEC to let everyone vote from any part of the country.

When questioned further on whether the commission’s decision to stop storing sensitive materials with CBN had to do with the open partisanship displayed by Emefiele, Yakubu said INEC was experimenting better ways to secure the materials.

“We are experimenting better ways in which can secure the processes, so it is not necessarily related to what is happening in the Central Bank. Our intention is to always improve and take complete ownership of the process,” he stated.

Yakubu also disclosed that the commission has responded to the demands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission by furnishing the anti-graft agency with the bank accounts and other financial details of political parties.

The EFCC had launched a discreet investigation into the finances of the 18 political parties in the country and their presidential aspirants following the humongous fees paid for expression of interest and nomination forms by aspirants vying for various elective offices in the parties.

“The commission has responded. We wrote already to the EFCC. They asked for information and we are duty bound to provide that information and we did so”, the INEC boss said.