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Why It Will Be Difficult To Rig During 2015 Elections – INEC
By Adedayo Ogunleye
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has assured Nigerians that it would not be business as usual for politicians who have plans to rig during the rescheduled general elections.
The commission’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Benue State, Istifanus Defwang, who gave the assurance when he paid a visit to the state governor, Gabriel Suswam, stated that the recent introduction of card readers that would be used to identify fake Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, would ensure less than one per cent failure rate.
Stating that the commission was prepared to checkmate all plots to perpetrate electoral fraud such as use of fake PVCs, double voting, and voting by proxy, the REC warned that INEC officials would not condone any act of indiscipline from politicians but adhere strictly to all laid down procedures that would ensure the success of the election.
Further disclosing that Benue State had the highest zero polling unit non-collection of PVCs in the country and stating that out of the 3,188 polling units in the state, 659 units were yet to collect PVCs, he said that with the shift in the dates of the elections the commission was ready to distribute PVCs to registered voters who are yet to collect them.
He therefore called on registered voters to ensure that they collect their PVCs within the stipulated time frame.
“INEC has the capacity to conduct a free, fair and credible election with the level of our preparation, the new card reader machine will go a long way in fishing out people who are ready to commit fraud during the election.”
Calling on the state government to sensitize the residents on the need to collect their PVCs before the elections, Defwang also warned that INEC would not accept collection of cards by proxy even as he advised voters to go to the polling units where they registered to collect their cards.
Responding, the state governor, Gabriel Suswam, assured the REC that his administration and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, would provide a conducive atmosphere for peaceful and non-violent elections.
Drawing attention to recent alleged provocation by the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, which he alleged, shot two of PDP members in Konshisha and Guma local government areas of the state, Suswam promised that his party and supporters would not seek any vengeance.
Suswam charged INEC to conduct more enlightenment for the residents of the state on new voting system to ensure better understanding, especially by rural dwellers.
In a related development, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, in Oyo State, Rufus Akeju, has promised that prosecution awaits any voter caught with fake PVCs during the elections.
Vowing that the electoral body would not condone electoral fraud during the elections, he warned all those who had plans to use fake PVCs to shelve the idea or risk conviction and imprisonment.
“Any voter who is thinking of voting with a fake PVC during the general elections should shelve the idea now because doing so would land them in jail,’’ he said.
Announcing that a total of 1,563,800 PVCs had been distributed by INEC in Oyo State, the REC also assured the public that several strategies had been devised by the commission to check rigging and ensure credible elections.
“For instance, it will be impossible for anybody to steal ballot papers in the name of rigging because there cannot be more than 750 ballot papers in any polling unit,” he said.
The presidential and National Assembly elections, which had earlier been scheduled for February 14, have been rescheduled to hold on March 28 while the governorship and state Houses of Assembly polls, which had been slated for February 21, will now hold on April 11.