Burnt card readers: INEC insists Ondo election will not be postponed
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MAHMOOD Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that the Ondo State governorship poll fixed for October 10 would not be postponed despite the fire incident that burnt the Card Readers meant for the election.
Yakubu stated this comment during an interactive session with stakeholders and Civil Society Organisations, convened by the National Peace Committee on Friday.
According to the INEC Chairman, the 5100 Card Readers programmed for use for the election were razed in the inferno that broke out on Thursday night.
He assured that the incident would not lead to the postponement of the election, adding that INEC would procure all the needed Card Readers for the election from neigbhouring states since it was not a general election.
“Will that affect the election? I am glad to say that we have recovered from that and election in Ondo is going to go ahead, we have huge capacity in the neighbouring state to get additional Smart Card Readers,” Yakubu said.
“Let me give you a little bit of statistics, we require 4100 Smart Card Readers for the Ondo election and additional 100 for training so that the ad-hoc Staff are properly trained using the Smart Card Reader. So we got 1000 Card Readers from our office in Osun State.”
“So we had 5100 Smart Card Readers good to go for the Ondo election but unfortunately from the reports am getting, we lost the 5100 Smart Card Readers in that container,” he explained.
He added that he has had a discussion with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Oyo State and that 700 Smart Card Readers from there have been assured.
“Getting 5000 Smart Card Readers to support Ondo won’t be an issue at all. This is not a general election that is holding nationwide, it is an off-season election,” he stated.
“We have recovered in Ondo, while an investigation continues in the cause of the fire. The Ondo election will not be affected by what happened to the Smart Card Readers.”
According to him, the fire only affected the container housing the Smart Card Readers which was the same container that was used in 2015, 2016 and 2019 elections, and not that the Commission moved the Smart Card Readers to an unsafe place.
“But learning from what happened in Ondo, we are also taking measures to ensure that there is no repeat of this kind of incident in Edo State,” he added.
Meanwhile, Eyitayo Jegede, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the October 10 gubernatorial election said he suspected a foul play in the fire incident.
Jegede said this in a statement by Samuel Fasua, the Director of Media of his campaign organisation, on Friday alleging that the Ondo Government was acquiring pin codes of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) through loan assistance.
“For a while now, our main rival in this race has been in the eye of the storm over an accusation that it was using loan assistance decoy to collect the pin codes in the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) of drivers, artisans and other professionals across the state.
“Telephone SMS was sent to them through the Ondo State Entrepreneurship Agency, that they should submit the code numbers on their PVCs latest September 2, 2020; that the state government wanted to grant them loans to boost their businesses.
“Here were loans that our people did not get for three and half years that the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration has been in power; but now, the party is trying to use a loan offer as a decoy to pervert the inalienable right of the people to elect the candidate of their choice, Jegede said.
He added that “Now, shortly after the collection of innocent people’s PVCs through the backdoor, came the shocking news that the INEC office had been razed by fire and that over 5000 card readers had been burnt.
“We smell a rat in all of this, knowing that the next scene in what looks like a drama of the absurd may lead to steps that can tinker with the authentic INEC voters’ list, with yesterday’s fire incident as an alibi.”