By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that supplementary elections would be conducted in all areas where elections did not take place or where returns could not be made during the just concluded presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 23, 2019.
The commission said the supplementary elections would be conducted on Saturday, March 9, 2019 alongside the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement yesterday, where the electoral umpire also decried high level of violence that characterised the February 23 polls.
INEC also expressed serious concern over the conduct of certain members of the security agencies in some states during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
According to Okoye, these decisions were taken during a meeting on Thursday, where INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) reviewed the February 23, 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections. Okoye said the meeting also assessed preparations for the governorship, State Houses of Assembly and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council elections slated for Saturday, March 9, 2019.
He stressed that the meeting acknowledged the delays in the commencement of elections in a number of polling units, which necessitated the extension of the closing of polls in the affected areas, adding that the Commission was determined to rectify the identified challenges before the elections on 9th March.
Okoye stated: “The meeting noted a number of cancellations in certain areas due to violence, which prevented the Commission from deploying personnel and materials for the elections in a number of locations, it could not conclude the elections due to disruptions and deliberate non-compliance with the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR), contrary to the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections.
“Consequently, the meeting decided that supplementary elections will be conducted in all areas where elections did not take place or where returns could not be made on Saturday, 9th March 2019 alongside the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
“The meeting also assessed the role of security agencies in the elections. While acknowledging their professionalism in the deployment of election personnel and materials in a safe and timely manner, the conduct of certain members of the security agencies in some states is a matter of serious concern to the Commission.
“This matter will be further discussed directly with the Inspector General of Police within the ambit of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in preparation for the governorship, State Houses of Assembly and PCT Area Council elections.”
The commission further noted that although the elections were generally peaceful, the meeting observed and decried the high level of violence in a few places, which regrettably led to fatalities in some states, in addition to the subjugation of some of its officials to threats, harassment, intimidation, assault, abduction and even rape.
The Commission however condoled with the families of its ad-hoc staff who lost their lives while on this national assignment, as well as other Nigerians who died in the course of the elections. It also expressed deep regrets to and sympathy for all victims of the mindless violence, saying “we stand with them in these difficult times.”
Furthermore, he said that the RECs were directed to submit comprehensive reports of these incidents to the commission for appropriate action. The commission expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness and the deployments of sensitive and non-sensitive materials scheduled for delivery to the Registration Area Centres (RACS) on Friday, March 8, 2019 for the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.