Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm that 2, 045 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) have been stolen from its Local Government Area office in Okobo, Akwa Ibom State.
Just few months to the conduct of the 2019 general elections in the country, the electoral umpire said the stealing of the PVCs that were awaiting distribution to the owners might have been the handy work of desperate politicians who want to win elections in the state at all cost.
The National Commissioner, INEC, supervising Akwa Ibom, Delta and Cross River states, Dr. Mohammed Mustapha Lecky, disclosed this yesterday while briefing journalists at the INEC state headquarters along Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.
At the briefing were the State Resident INEC Commissioner, Mr. Mike Igini and the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. John Abang, among other tops officials in attendance.
The INEC office in Okobo was attached by angry youths that protested the outcome of the conduct of the primaries election held by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the area last month.
The INEC officer in charge of the three Niger Delta States however, maintained that the cards stolen will not have any effect on the conduct of the 2019 elections in the area as the list and details of the owners still with the commission would be used to reproduce same for the owners.
According to him, the Commission was working with security agencies to track down the suspects with a view to recovering the cards and prosecuting the hoodlums.
His words, “The PVCs were stolen in Okobo Local Government Area; they were 2,045 PVCs. We have visited the local government and we can see a lot of security lapses around the local government office.
“I think it was a mob action which was a consequence of the primaries elections that were taking place at that time and I want to assure you that the police are looking into the matter. These things (PVCs) were stolen from where we kept them for safety.
“Like I have said what they (hoodlums) have done is a nullity because we have a list of everybody; we have their names; we have their pin numbers and we have their pictures on the voters’ register. It is a matter of reproducing the PVCs and making them available.
“But still we have to go after those culprits who were responsible so that we can apprehend them and punish them according to the law.”
The INEC chief in charge of the three states said the election body will be very firm in the conduct of the 2019 general elections saying the Commission will not entertain anything like interference from any section of the society indicating that the much talked about federal might to influence the election by the ruling APC government at the centre does not arise.
Lecky warned politicians against kick-starting political campaigns before November 18 fixed by the commission for such programmes positing that anything contrary will be defying INEC’s regulations concerning campaigns.
On his part, the State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Mr. Igini, said political parties in the state should not be afraid as he would ensure that credible and transparent elections were recorded in the state under his watch.
“Under the current leadership under my watch in this state and with our Commissioner of Police, we will maintain absolute, unqualified neutrality to provide a level playing field to leave behind a legacy and electoral process where attitude are shaped.” Igini declared
Also speaking, the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. John Abang, said every security measures would be taken to ensure the outcome of the polls in the state meet international best practices that would be acceptable to all contenders and political parties.