The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has said it would conduct fresh elections in areas where the exercise could not hold last Saturday due to violence or other infractions. The elections would now be conducted in March 9 alongside the Governorship and State Assembly Polls.
Although returns have been made in the presidential election and most of the National Assembly seats, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had stated during the collation of presidential results that the figures from areas where elections could not be conducted were not substantial enough to impact on making a return in the presidential contest.
The decision was a fallout of the meeting of the Commission with its Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, Thursday in Abuja, to review the Presidential and National Assembly Elections held on Saturday, 23rd February 2019 and assess preparations for the Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections slated for Saturday, 9th March 2019.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye in a statement said the meeting acknowledged the delays in the commencement of elections in a number of polling units which necessitated the extension of the closing of polls in the affected areas. “The Commission is determined to rectify the identified challenges before the elections on 9th March”.
According to Okoye, “The meeting noted a number of cancellations in certain areas due to violence, which prevented the Commission from deploying personnel and materials for the elections. In a number of locations, it could not conclude the elections due to disruptions and deliberate noncompliance with the use of the Smart Card Reader SCR, contrary to the lNEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections. “Consequently, the meeting decided that supplementary elections will be conducted in all areas where elections did not take place and/or where returns could not be made on Saturday, 9th March 2019 alongside the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections. Knocks erring security personnel “The meeting also assessed the role of security agencies in the elections. While acknowledging their professionalism In the deployment of election personnel and materials in a safe and timely manner, the conduct of certain members of the security agencies in some states is a matter of serious concern to the Commission. This matter will be further discussed directly with the inspector-General of Police within the ambit of the inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES. “In preparation for the Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and PCT Area Council elections. Electoral Officials harassed, raped “Although the elections were generally peaceful, the meeting observed and decried the high level of violence in a few places, which regrettably led to fatalities in some States, in addition to the subjugation of some of our electoral officials to threats, harassment, intimidation, assault, abduction and even rape. “The Commission condoles with the families of its ad-hoc staff who lost their lives while on this national assignment, as well as other Nigerians who died in the course of the elections. It also expresses its deep regrets to and sympathy for all victims of this mindless violence. We stand with them in these difficult times. “The RECs were directed to submit comprehensive reports of these incidents to the Commission for appropriate action. “The meeting also considered and received updates on preparations for the elections slated for Saturday, 9th March 2019. It expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness and the deployment of sensitive and non-sensitive materials scheduled for delivery to the Registration Area Centres (RACS) on Friday, 8th March 2019 and noted that this was on course”, INEC added.