By: Joy Odor/Abuja
Read the Text: REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU, AT THE MEETING OF THE INTER-AGENCY CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE ON ELECTION SECURITY (ICCES), CONFERENCE ROOM, INEC HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA, THURSDAY 7THMARCH 2019
- I welcome all members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Security (ICCES) to this meeting. Coming after the conclusion of the Presidential and National Assembly elections and on the eve of the Governorship, State Assembly and Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), this is a very important meeting indeed. It is also the last consultative meeting before the second phase of voting in the 2019 general elections.
- On Saturday 9thMarch 2019, Nigerians are once again going to the polls to elect Governors in 29 States, 991 members of Houses of Assembly in all the States of the Federation, 6 Chairmen as well as 62 Councillors for the Area Councils in the FCT. A total of 1,082 candidates will be elected by citizens across the country. Learning from the experience of the Presidential and National Assembly elections held two weeks ago, the Commission has effectively tackled the challenge of logistics. Materials for the election have been delivered to all States and the FCT. Movement to the Local Government Areas will be completed today. By tomorrow, all materials and relevant personnel will arrive at the Registration Area Centres (RACs). With this arrangement, we are confident that all polling units will open at 8.00 am nationwide.
- In addition to elections into 1,082 constituencies nationwide, the Commission will conduct supplementary elections in 14 States of the Federation covering 7 Senatorial Districts and 24 Federal Constituencies. Elections in the affected areas were disrupted mainly by acts of violence involving ballot box snatching, abduction of INEC officials, over voting and the failure to adhere to regulations and guidelines.
The number of registered voters in the polling units involved in each constituency is more than the votes received by the candidate with the highest number of votes. Supplementary elections must therefore be conducted to determine the winners. Consequently, the Commission decided to conduct the supplementary National Assembly polls on Saturday alongside the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
Full details of the constituencies involved have been communicated to stakeholders in the affected States and will also be available on our website for public information later today. Similarly, the list of candidates that emerged winners in the Senatorial and House of Representatives’ elections held on Saturday 23rdFebruary 2019 will be available on our website later today.
- For Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies in which winners have already emerged, the Commission will issue their Certificates of Return next week. Preparations for the elections holding this weekend into 1,082 constituencies require the full attention of the entire Commission. We reckoned that the elected candidates are also busy campaigning in their constituencies for the remaining elections. The Certificates of Return shall be presented at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, on the basis of the following schedule:
Date: Thursday 14thMarch 2019
- Senators Elect
- Members of the House of Representatives-elect
- Certificates of Return for Governors and Deputy-Governors-elect, Members of State Houses of Assembly-elect and Chairmen and Councillors for the FCT shall be presented in each State of the Federation by the Supervising National Commissioners and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on a date to be announced next week.
- As Nigerians go to the polls this weekend, the Commission expresses its appreciation to the security agencies for securing the environment without which the largely peaceful conduct of the exercise would not have been possible. In the course of securing the elections, the security agencies, electoral officials and innocent Nigerians have suffered needless attacks resulting in casualties including deaths and the loss of personal and official properties. On behalf of the Commission, I extend our deepest condolence to the families of those who lost their lives, including personnel of the security agencies. We are glad that the Police has made several arrests and investigation is ongoing. I wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will work closely with the Police to ensure the diligent prosecution of all violators of our electoral laws. Citizens are asking for effective but non-intrusive protection before, during and immediately after the elections in which their rights are respected and their choices safeguarded.
- While we look forward to the same cooperation with the security agencies, I am confident that lessons learnt from the Presidential and National Assembly elections will help us to more effectively secure the environment for the elections this weekend. The Commission is concerned that many of our materials, including ballot boxes, voting cubicles, voters’ registers and Smart Card Readers were lost to acts of hooliganism and thuggery in the elections held two weeks ago. Most worrisome is the attack on electoral officials. Some of our staff were abducted and taken hostage in an attempt to disrupt elections or influence the outcome. In fact, some of the supplementary elections I referred to earlier were caused by such acts of thuggery. I am confident that working together with the security agencies, we will consolidate on the largely peaceful conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections while also taking decisive steps to deal with the minority of violators intent on disrupting the conduct of peaceful elections. However, the Commission will not tolerate the act of holding our officials hostage and forcing them to declare winners under duress. Where such occurs, the Commission will not reward bad behaviour by issuing them Certificates of Return.
- We have once again reconfigured the Smart Card Readers for the elections on Saturday. The use of the card readers is mandatory and there will be no exemption to their deployment for accreditation of voters. Under our Regulations and Guidelines, there are clear penalties for the deliberate failure to deploy them on the part of our staff. Where such happens with the connivance of communities, the result of election in the polling unit(s) will be cancelled and zero vote recorded.
- For the elections holding this weekend, the Commission will still maintain its Situation Room at the International Conference Centre (ICC) to monitor the elections nationwide and respond to issues that may arise. No election results will be collated and no declaration of winners will be done at the ICC. All collation and declaration of results will be done at the various constituency and State declaration centres. The Situation Room will be open from tomorrow Friday 8thMarch 2019 to Wednesday 13thMarch 2019. As was the case two weeks ago, the Situation Room will be open to visitation by interested media organisations, domestic and international observers from Saturday 9thMarch 2019 on the basis of the following schedule:
- Media – 11am – 12noon
- Domestic observers – 2-3pm
iii. International observers – 5 – 6pm
- Once again, I welcome all members of ICCES to this meeting. There is a lot to discuss during the working session. I thank you for your attention.