The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has said that corps members deployed as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ad hoc staff will not be allowed to work in security-challenged areas in the country.
Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday, ahead of the upcoming governorship and House of Assembly polls slated for March 9.
Adeyemi, who said that no corps member died during the presidential and National Assembly elections, which held on February 23, assured Nigerians that the safety and security of corps members remained a top priority for the scheme.
She said that corps members would not be posted to work as ad hoc staff for the March elections in any state or area of the federation that had been adjudged as having security challenges.
According to Adeyemi, the NYSC do not allow corps members work in any security challenged area, whether it is for primary assignment or for elections and INEC understands that.
“Corps members are not allowed to work or live in such areas and this is understood by INEC. Once a place is adjudged and declared as having security challenges, corps members are not to serve there either for elections or primary assignments.
“Their security is always considered by the scheme during posting.
“We have seen reports in the media claiming that corps members died during the presidential and national assembly elections.
“The NYSC Coordinator in Rivers already addressed this issue and set the records straight that no corps member serving as INEC ad hoc staff died during the February 23 elections.
“There were pockets of violence in the state but no corps member lost his or her life.
“Before corps members are deployed as INEC ad hoc staff, there must be an MoU between the two organisations and as part of the MoU, INEC is to provide welfare and security for the corps members.
“Payment of renumeration is also fixed and disbursed by INEC. The commission has stated how much corps members are entitled to and they also agreed that their welfare, which includes transportation and feeding will be handled by them,” adeyemi said.
She said that the responsibility of the scheme was to ensure that the commission carried out to the letter, all agreements signed by it.
Adeyemi also emphasised that corps members involvement as INEC ad hoc staff was not mandatory but optional for them, hence no corps member could be forced to carry out the assignment.
According to her, it is optional and no longer compulsery, we train and sensitise them and get them prepared for the assignment because it is a national assignment and INEC pays the approved federal government remuneration.
Adeyemi said that the scheme was working closely with the commission to ensure that the logistic problems encountered during the postponed election of February 16, did not occur in subsequent elections.
The NYSC, however, urged corps members deployed as INEC ad hoc staff for the 2019 general election to remain apolitical and ensure they adhered strictly to the Electoral Act.
The scheme warned that any corps member who directly engaged in, aids or abets electoral malpractices would face prosecution by the appropriate authority.
“While we commend the performance of corps members during the presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, we wish to stress that as electoral umpires, corps members are expected to remain apolitical.
“Management wishes to warn that any corps member who directly engages in, aids or abets electoral malpractices will face prosecution by the appropriate authorities.
“As the governorship and House of Assembly elections approach, management expects corps members to once again demonstrate a high sense of responsibility and neutrality.
“This call has become necessary as the entire nation looks up to them for the credibility of the elections. They are therefore, expected to uphold the trust and resist any temptation to compromise the integrity of the exercise.
“In particular, all corps members must resist attempts by politicians, their agents, or other individuals or groups to corruptly induce them to commit any form of electoral fraud. We expect them to be good ambassadors of NYSC and their respective families,” Adeyemi said.
Adeyemi assured Nigerians that the scheme was committed and working with relevant stakeholders to effectively address the security and welfare needs of corps members during and after the elections. (NAN)