INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega
•We’re prepared for riggers in 2015, Says Jega
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
A report by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the 2011 general election, which was released yesterday, has listed 19 states where electoral offences were mostly committed during the polls.
On the list are: Katsina, Zamfara, Adamawa, Imo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Osun, Borno, Sokoto, Kogi, Abia, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa and Ebonyi States.
The report, made public by the INEC Office of the Election Monitoring and Observation Committee at a conference on ‘Election Monitoring and Observation: Post 2011 Election Observation Lessons Learnt’ in Abuja, classified electoral offences into various categories, with some of the states appearing more than once under different categories.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, at the occasion, also expressed the determination of the commission to ensure that election riggers would not have a chance to commit any atrocity in the 2015 general election.
The report, presented by the Head of the Election Monitoring Observation Unit, Mrs. Ikwunma Halliday, listed Katsina, Zamfara, Adamawa, Imo, Ondo and Ebonyi as states where cases of underage voting were widely reported.
Cases of multiple voting were also reported in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Osun, Borno and Sokoto States while in Kogi, Abia, Imo, Nasarawa and Akwa Ibom States, there were reported cases of ballot box snatching.
The report also noted that despite the fact that there was no voting in some polling units in Delta, Rivers, Imo, Bayelsa and Ebonyi States, results were produced from those areas.
It also listed states where election processes were disrupted by thugs to include Delta, Kogi and Nasarawa.
The report called for strict punishment of offenders and the publication of names of those convicted for electoral offences to serve as deterrence to others.
It also advocated the retention of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members as ad hoc staff during elections and timely distribution of election materials, including the provision of logistic requirements to facilitate the early commencement of voting as well as a reduction in the time between accreditation and voting.
The election monitors urged INEC to sanitise the voters’ register before any election, so as to remove and eliminate all multiple names, adding that the commission should also embark on continuous voter education.
In his speech, Jega said INEC had perfected a waterproof electoral system capable of detecting any electoral fraud and outright rigging.
As part of such measures, he added, there would be what he described as voters’ card readers in all the 120,000 polling stations nationwide.
THISDAY gathered that the installation of the readers would commence in 2013.
He also gave some insight into what is expected of the 2013 delineation of all federal and state constituencies, stating that by the end of the exercise, polling units with more than 500 voters will be reviewed.
On the delineation of the constituencies, Jega said that the exercise would address some of the challenges of excess voters in polling units as some polling units have as much as 3,500 voters against the prescribed 500 voters.
“This is because there has been no delineation of constituencies since 1996. What we intend to do with the exercise is that polling units that have more than 500 voters would be corrected to be in line with what the law says,” he stated.
Jega also said that though staggered elections have proven to be good in Nigeria, such polls were not in line with international best practices in global election management.
He, therefore, added that the commission would not waiver in its campaign for the abolition of staggered polls.