By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ekiti State on Thursday disclosed that all the ad hoc staff that would be used for the 2019 elections will be examined to ascertain whether they have criminal records with the police and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
INEC said the commission will be painstaking in digging deep into the records of the ad hoc staff, who will be members of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and those working with federal higher institutions and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) under the federal government to ascertain the records of those that will conduct such sensitive elections.
INEC also raised the alarm that a total of 256,648 registered voters are yet to claim their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in Ekiti out of a total register voters of 921,027 in the state.
The commission, however, revealed that no fewer than 664,379 PVCs have been distributed to the electorate and are eligible to vote in the February 16 and March 2 presidential and National Assembly elections as well governorship and state Assembly polls respectively.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti, Prof. Abduganiy Raji, said these in Ado Ekiti while addressing some stakeholders at the INEC headquarters over the commission’s readiness for the elections.
The stakeholders included political parties under the aegis of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Joint National Association of People Living With Disabilities (JONADIP) and religious bodies.
Raji said: “We are hiring the services of police and NDLEA to test whether the ad hoc staff to be used are having criminal records or are those that are used to hard drugs. We can’t use criminals to conduct elections or drug abusers and be expecting good results.”
He warned the staff of the commission against compromise, saying anyone caught sabotaging INEC will not only be dismissed but would be jailed in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act and 1999 constitution.
Raji added that only those working with federal higher institutions and MDAs and are above grade level 10 would be eligible to apply as ad hoc staff.
He also allayed the fears in town that the PVCs were being cloned by politicians, saying: “Those doing that will end up being disappointed. Our database can’t be hacked by anybody, because our ICT network was customized in a way that would be hack-free.
“Even our workers who are working in the ICT have limitations, there is a limit to which they can go. In clear terms, the cloned PVCs can’t work with our smart card readers.
“We heard people are selling their PVCs, this would not help anybody. But how can people be selling their future? Even if you are given a sum of N20,000, would that be enough to take you throughout four years? So our people must stop selling their future.”
The INEC boss promised that the commission won’t disappoint and disgrace Nigerians in the conduct of the elections.
Raji assured the JONADIP members that enough provisions have been made for them to be able to vote without hindrance and recruit their
members who satisfy the criteria spelt out to be fit as ad hoc staff in the conduct of the coming elections.
The IPAC Chairman in the state, Mr. Ilesanmi Omolayo, appealed to
political parties to start mobilising the people on the need to collect their PVCs in readiness for the elections.