The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday said it was closely monitoring the security situation in Osun, ahead of July 16 governorship election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this in Abuja at a special meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
The meeting was convened to review security arrangement and plans to ensure a successful governorship poll in the state.
Yakubu said that although the situation in Osun was generally calm at the moment, INEC was concerned about some reported clashes in parts of the state.
“In one recent example, the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) was disrupted in Erin Oke and Erin Ijesha Wards of Oriade Local Government Area resulting in the loss of 46 PVCs.
“While the matter is being investigated by the police, the collection of PVCs for the affected wards is now taking place in the INEC office in Ijebu-Jesha.
“Meanwhile, the state office has compiled the Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of the cards and the commission has already reprinted the PVCs for the affected voters.
“ I willl like to assure all valid registrants in Osun that no one will be disenfranchised on account of such incidence.
“It is futile for anyone to attempt to vote using another person’s PVC. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System will expose such fraud and persons apprehended will be prosecuted under the law,” Yakubu said.
The chairman said the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Abdulganiyu Raji, and the Commissioner of Police,CP Wale Olokode, would brief the meeting on the readiness for the Osun election.
Yakubu said that on the part of INEC headquarters, all necessary arrangements had been completed for a hitch free poll.
He said that INEC would soon deploy a- readiness-assessment team to Osun to assess its preparations for the election.
“It will also meet its staff, security agencies, transporters and traditional rulers to solicit their support for peaceful elections.
“We will also observe the mock accreditation of voters in some Polling Units across the three Senatorial Districts of the state to test the functionality of the BVAS.
“A few days to the election, we will return to Osun to meet with the stakeholders and for the signing of the Peace Accord by political parties and candidates under the auspices of the National Peace Committee,” he said.
The chairman described vote buying as a major concern in the nation’s elections, but disclosed that INEC was working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute persons arrested in connection with vote buying in the Ekiti governorship election.
“Action will commence as soon as the EFCC completes its investigations. I appeal to all security agencies to continue to join hands with the commission to tackle this menace.’’
Yakubu appreciated the role played by the anti-corruption and security agencies in apprehending some of the perpetrators of the brazen assault on the nation’s democracy.
He commended the synergy between the commission and the security agencies that ensured a seamless coordination in the widely acclaimed success of the Ekiti governorship election.
“Security was well-coordinated. The election was peaceful. Personnel and materials were deployed promptly.
“Election day processes commenced as scheduled. Election technology functioned optimally. Results were transmitted from the polling units and collated at the various collation centres in record time.
“ I must, on behalf of the commission, convey our appreciation to all members of ICCES for the success of the election.
“We must continue to build on the success of the Ekiti experience to ensure improved performance in subsequent elections, including the 2023 general elections,” Yakubu said.
The chairman also reassured Nigerians who applied for Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents arising from the recent party congresses, primaries and nomination of candidates that all the requests were being attended to expeditiously, in spite the huge number of documents.
“ Nigerian elections, especially the conduct of primaries for the nomination of candidates by political parties, is one of the most litigated in the world.
“As at yesterday evening (Friday July 1, 2022), 216 requests have so far been processed involving the certification of over 1,650,000 pages of documents.
“Indeed, there are now far more cases challenging the breach of internal democracy within political parties than those involving the conduct of the main elections by INEC.
“We will continue to work round the clock, including the weekends, to ensure that we attend to all applications received at the headquarters of the commission promptly,” he said.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, urged INEC and ICCES members to build on the successes recorded from the Ekiti election.
Mongunu, represented by Sanusi Galadima, said that it was important as some disgruntled politicians might attempt to sabotage the process for their selfish gains, through vote buying and other forms of voter inducement as well as political thuggery.
Monguno commended INEC for the extension of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), which was scheduled to close on June 30, a development he said would enable more eligible voters to obtain their voter cards.
“The NSA commended INEC, members of ICCES and other strategic stakeholders for their immense contributions toward improving the electoral process in Nigeria.
“You will all agree with me that the commission is currently undergoing tremendous transformation through re-calibration of the electoral process in the areas of voter registration/voter education, screening of voters at the polling units (using BVAS) as well as election result collation and transmission.
“ Records from the conduct of the last Ekiti governorship election indicated an impressive performance by the INEC as well as the ICCES member agencies as there were no any major incident of security concern recorded during and after the election.
“However, more needs to be done in terms of enlightenment campaign to encourage voters to come out and cast their votes on the day of the election.
“This is because of the low turnout recorded during the election compared to the total number of registered voters in the state.
“Consequent upon the above, the NSA enjoined INEC, through the Department of Voter Education/Publicity, to redouble efforts ahead of the Osun guber election and the forthcoming general elections in 2023,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that heads and representatives of various security agencies, INEC National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioner for Osun, Commissioner of Police and Secretary to the Commission attended the meeting.