Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has said that contrary to the directive President Muhammadu Buhari gave to the police and the military to shoot ballot box snatchers, culprits of electoral violence would be punished in accordance to the Electoral Act.
Although Part VIII, Section 129 (sub IV) of the Electoral Act stipulates that anybody who snatches or destroys any election material shall be liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment, President Muhammadu Buhari had revealed during an emergency national caucus meeting that he had ordered security agents to shoot on sight anyone caught in the act.
However, reacting to the directive during a media parley to update Nigerians on the progress made by the commission ahead of this weekend’s poll, the electoral INEC boss said: “The position on the shoot-on-sight order is that the violators of the Electoral Act should be punished according to the provisions of the Electoral Act.”
Yakubu had equally reacted to the trending speculation on the invitation of the commission’s officials by the Department of State Services (DSS), the INEC chairman dismissed such arrest.
“No commissioner of the commission was picked up by any security agency. No house of any commissioner of the commission was raided. No commissioner of INEC has been picked up by the security agents. The particular commissioner you are referring to as mentioned in the social media is, as we speak, in his office in the commission. Similarly, no director was picked up by any security agency,” he insisted.
While giving an update on the readiness of the commission for the poll, he said: “Let me, therefore, present to you the level of implementation so far achieved. By Monday evening, all issues relating to the delivery of the materials were identified and virtually addressed. Ballot papers, result sheets and a host of non-sensitive materials are now in location across the 37 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (PCT).
“Our state offices commenced the process of inviting stakeholders to the Central Bank of Nigeria to examine the retrieved materials deployed last week and to witness the dispatching of materials according to local government areas (LGAs). This is ongoing at the moment and is expected to be completed today Tuesday, February 19, 2019.
“The movement of materials to LGAs for batching according towards and polling units shall take place on Wednesday and Thursday, February 21, 2019. A11 Registration Area Centres (RACs) are to be activated by 9.00am on Friday, February 22, 2019. Personnel and materials should be at the RACs by mid-day on Friday, February 22, 2019.
“Refresher training for ad hoc personnel should take place at the RACs on Friday, February 22, 2019. Personnel and materials must arrive at the polling units latest 7 am on Saturday, February 23, 2019. The opening of polls nationwide will take place at 8 am on Saturday, February 23, 2019.
“You would recall that in my address to stakeholders, I mentioned that we intended to reschedule the elections for just 24 hours to enable us to deliver the final batch of sensitive materials for the elections. However, our ICT team notified us that it would require more time to reconfigure the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) in time for the elections.
“Let me explain why. The SCRs are configured to only open for use at 8 am on election day, and to automatically shut down by 10 pm. This is designed to forestall any illegal use of the SCRs before the appointed time of elections. There are roughly 180,000 SCRs to be deployed for the elections and the ICT team said that they would require 5-6 days to complete the configuration. 1’m glad to say that as at today, about 98 per cent of the SCRs have been reconfigured and we are confident that by tomorrow all would be ready, which is a day earlier than scheduled,” he said. (The Sun)
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