By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the legislative rerun election scheduled for December 10will hold in 1,840 polling units spread across the 23 local government areas of Rivers State.
The commission also denied recruiting card-carrying members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as ad hoc staff to prosecute the election as alleged by the state government.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Aniedi Ikoiwak, spoke when the executive members of the Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by the state Chairman, Omoni Ayo-Tamuno, paid him a courtesy visit at the commission’s office in Port Harcourt.
Ikoiwak however stated that bulk of the voting on the election day will be in seven local government areas of the state, including Andoni, Akuku-Toru, Bonny, Etche, Ikwerre, Khana and Gokana.
He insisted that INEC is not recruiting ad-hoc staff for the election, saying that ad-hoc staff used during elections by the commission are brought in from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and other federal agencies.
Ikoiwak said: “We want to make it clear that we have nothing to do with any political party. We have where we collect our ad-hoc staff. It is very clear, we are not recruiting ad-hoc staff, that people will write application and so on.
“We collect them from the NYSC, from federal agencies and to compliment shortfalls, we collect students from the university. All the people who are being trained are either NYSC, or students or staff of federal agencies, including those from INEC. If we find out that there is any student who has affiliation with a political party, and we have the data clearly, such student will be dropped.
“That is why we challenge those who are saying it, to give us the list of those people and prove if they are not students or even if they are students, there are some who have affiliations with political parties. Yes, they are students and they have affiliations with political parties and it is proved, those ones will be dropped.”
Earlier, chairman of NUJ in the state, Omoni Ayo-Tamuno, said it was regretable that a number of journalists, who were carrying out their constitutional responsibility were attacked and wounded during the March 19, 2016 rerun election in the state.
He said, “Journalists have only their pen, they don’t wear bullet-proof jackets. The only thing we want is security for our members. During the last rerun election,our members were attacked and a car belonging to one of the was burnt.”