- May register nine new parties
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is prepared to deal decisively with anyone planning to truncate the 2019 general election.
The commission also gave a hint that it may be registering additional nine political parties before the next general elections.
The Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, assured the leadership of political parties that INEC would continue to maintain its integrity as election managers.
Speaking at a quarterly meeting with Chairmen and Secretaries of 68 registered political parties in the country, Yakubu said the commission is aware that as the country approaches the 2019 general election, there would be a lot of interest in its activities â€œfor virtuous and malicious reasons.â€
He said INEC had anticipated the challenges far ahead of the mischief makers.
â€œOnly a few days ago, Nigerians were legitimately outraged by the image of blank PVC advertised by an offshore company for purchase in the open market. Within a few hours, we contacted the online platform responsible for the advert which promptly removed it. What Nigerians may not know is that it was not a single advertiser. A second company was forced to remove a similar advert, and this morning, a third one was also withdrawn.
â€œWe have extracted a commitment from Alibaba.com to stop this unwholesome practice forthwith and will continue to work with the security agencies to track down those responsible for the advert as well as any prospective buyers of which there are none so far. We suspect that many dubious enterprises will keep trying keep operating in openly and in the dark web.
â€œWe have anticipated these challenges and we are far ahead of the mischief makers. Our security source codes are not only robust but continuously enhanced,â€ Yakubu said.
The commission boss also assured Nigerians that the electoral processes have gone beyond the capacity of its officials to manipulate.
Yakubu said it is ludicrous to claim that the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to be used in the conduct of any election could be cloned and Smart Card Readers (SCR) pre-loaded.
According to him, â€œThe card readers are only configured to specific polling units 72 hours or less before an election, set to operate only on election day from 8 a.m. and is manually shut down for accreditation after the last person on the queue has voted or automatically by 8 p.m.
â€œIn Ekiti State, where we are deploying the enhanced Smart Card Readers (SCRs), this process has not even commenced. It is impossible to pre-load the card readers let alone do so with cloned PVCs.â€
He regretted that there is still fixation in certain quarters that INEC officials are involved in perverting the processes and procedures for partisan considerations.
According to him, INEC is not a political party and have no candidate in any election.
Speaking on the July 14 Ekiti State governorship election, Yakubu said the election would hold in 2,195 polling units spread across 177 wards in 16 local government areas, adding that 35 political parties have been cleared to contest in the election.
He said INEC has so far successfully implemented 12 out of the 14 activities leading to the election.