Mahmood Yakubu
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

• Deploy new card readers for Ekiti polls

Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) will be temporarily suspended in the second week of December to allow for the conduct of the general election starting on February 19, 2019.

In a statement issued wednesday by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Prince Solomon Soyebi, the commission said so far, it has registered over four million new voters under the CVR exercise.
The CVR exercise commenced on April 27, 2017 across the country.

However, the commission said going by the provisions of Section 9 (5) of the Electoral Act (as amended), the CVR would be temporarily suspended 60 days to the commencement of the next general election scheduled for February 2019.
It said the exercise would resume after the conclusion of the elections.

“The commission wishes to assure all eligible Nigerians that the CVR exercise is designed to continue indefinitely as envisaged by the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

“The commission hereby encourages all eligible Nigerians to register at our offices in all local government headquarters and other officially designated areas across the country between 9a.m. and 3p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Full information about the designated areas can be obtained from our state offices,” it said.

INEC said the exercise was intended to afford all eligible Nigerians, 18 years and above who did not register in previous exercises the opportunity to do so at their convenience.

According to the INEC statement, “So far, over four million Nigerians have registered across the country”.
In a related development, INEC has disclosed that it would deploy new card readers for the upcoming governorship elections in Ekiti State later this year.

The Chairman of the electoral body, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said wednesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC, to defend the organisation’s 2018 budget estimates, where he added that the 85 staff, died of natural and unnatural causes in the outgone 2017.

“We ordered our ballot boxes in 2017 which cost N1.4 billion, we have been using same ballot boxes , INEC will no longer rely on other states for ballot boxes. So new ballot boxes will be used for 2019 general elections,” he said.
“We have been using same card readers but we are ordered for more card readers,” Mahmood added.

The INEC boss said the organisation is yet to conclude on a budget estimate for the 2019 general elections particularly as the National Assembly is still soldiering amendments to the Electoral Act of 2010.

“It is provisions of the amendment to 2010 electoral act after passage by the National Assembly that will show the commission how elections at primary level by the political parties would be conducted and monetary cost that would entail on the part of INEC, let alone the general elections,” the INEC boss said.

Speaking on the 85 deaths of staff recorded in 2017, Mahmood said the intense pressure which several of the workers are subjected to due to the nature of the job, led to high blood pressure for several of them, who also succumbed to heart attacks.
He made the explanation while defending the budget estimate for a sick bay at the national headquarters in Abuja

“In fact, last year alone, there was preponderance of the 85 staffers that we lost died through such circumstances hours or few days after being rushed to hospitals. This is the reason why we decided to have sick bays in our offices now for preventive measures,” he said.
In another development, the Senate Committee on INEC also screened eight nominees for Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of INEC.
INEC nominations are not affected by the Senate’s resolution to suspend considerations of nominees pending the clarification of its powers of confirmation on the appointment of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

INEC RECs are listed in the constitution as one whose members require confirmation by the Senate, where the EFCC is not.
Some of the nominees screened yesterday are Dr Usman Ajidagba (Kwara), Baba Yusuf Abba (Borno) Segun Agbaje (Ekiti), Yahaya Bello (Nasarawa) and Mohammed Magaji Ibrahim (Gombe).