Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Akwa Ibom State has discovered 22 polling booths hitherto located in politicians’ houses.
The commission has equally relocated the affected polling booths to appropriate locations in different parts of the state.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini revealed this at a news conference in Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom capital.
At the conference, however, the resident commissioner did not mention those private residences that had been used as polling units before now.
The resident commissioner said the relocation became necessary to forestall the influence of the election process by the owners of such buildings.
He disclosed that a total of 175,995 PVCs out of 1,893,379 delivered were yet to be collected by their owners in the state.
The INEC commissioner made known that only 4,346 out of 85,226 PVCs delivered to the state in the first quarter of this year were collected by their owners while 49,313 out of 127,880 delivered in 2017 were collected with only 1,663,725 out of 1,680,957 collected in 2015.
Igini added that INEC would continue to maintain neutrality in the election process and leave a legacy of free, fair and transparent elections that remain precedence on future elections in the state.
“In Akwa Ibom, votes would counts in 2019. As a people and as a commission, we remain committed to the legacy of bequeathing a transparent free and fair election. We have started the process and we hope to achieve this in line with our mandate,” the resident commissioner said.
He assured that the commission would conduct elections in the troubled Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun Local Government Area, noting that peace had gradually returned to the areas following the amnesty programme initiated by the state government.
According to him, it will no longer be business as usual for politicians who have perfected strategies to circumvent the electoral process stating the card readers have been reconfigured to reduce incidence of vote rigging during and after the election.
He, equally, added a platform has been developed to ensure that election results are transmitted electronically and on real time while efforts have been made to ensure that electoral officers would not have monopoly of election result sheets.
He REC urged politicians and elites “to play by the rules regretting that they remain the greatest problem of Nigeria. Electoral tribunals in the country will become useless if only politicians would accept polls results with a transparent process.
Igini said the preparations for the 2019 elections commenced in 2015 with Akwa Ibom and the other states of the federation keying into the Election Project Plan and indicated that the display of voters register would commence in all the 2,981 polling units of the state from next week.
Pointing out that over 1.6 million voters have been registered in the state, the resident commissioner said the figure could jump up to 1.8 million when the final figures are finally released in January next year.