•Says all materials have been delivered to states
*Threatens not to issue certificate of return to any politician that holds its staff hostage
By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared its readiness for Saturday’s elections, adding that all materials for the election have been delivered to all states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The commission also warned that it would not tolerate the act of holding its officials hostage and forcing them to declare winners under duress, saying that if such occurs, it would not issue Certificates of Return to any culpable politician.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this Thursday during the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting held at INEC Headquarters, Abuja, where he equally decried loss of its electoral materials to hooliganism and violence.
He added all materials and relevant personnel would arrive at the Registration Area Centres (RACs) today, noting that with this arrangement the commission is confident that all polling units will open at 8.00 a.m nationwide.
Yakubu stated, “On Saturday 9th March, 2019, Nigerians are once again going to the polls to elect Governors in 29 States, 991 members of Houses of Assembly in all the States of the Federation, 6 Chairmen as well as 62 Councillors for the Area Councils in the FCT.
“A total of 1,082 candidates will be elected by citizens across the country. Learning from the experience of the Presidential and National Assembly elections held two weeks ago, the Commission has effectively tackled the challenge of logistics. Materials for the election have been delivered to all States and the FCT. Movement to the Local Government Areas will be completed today.
“In addition to elections into 1,082 constituencies nationwide, the Commission will conduct supplementary elections in 14 States of the Federation covering 7 Senatorial Districts and 24 Federal Constituencies.”
The chairman said that elections in the affected areas were disrupted mainly by acts of violence involving ballot box snatching, abduction of INEC officials, over voting and the failure to adhere to regulations and guidelines.
Yakubu said that the number of registered voters in the polling units involved in each constituency was more than the votes received by the candidate with the highest number of votes.
According to him, “Supplementary elections must therefore be conducted to determine the winners. Consequently, the Commission decided to conduct the supplementary National Assembly polls on Saturday alongside the Governorship and State Assembly elections. Full details of the constituencies involved have been communicated to stakeholders in the affected States and will also be available on our website for public information later today.”
The INEC boss stressed that the list of candidates that emerged winners in the Senatorial and House of Representatives’ elections held on Saturday 23rd February, 2019 would be available on our website later Thursday.
He noted; “For Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies in which winners have already emerged, the Commission will issue their Certificates of Return next week. Preparations for the elections holding this weekend into 1,082 constituencies require the full attention of the entire Commission.
“We reckoned that the elected candidates are also busy campaigning in their constituencies for the remaining elections. The Certificates of Return shall be presented at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.”
Yakubu said that on Thursday 14th March 2019, Senators-elect would receive their certificate of return at 10.00am, while members of the House of Representatives-elect would receive theirs by 2.00pm the same day.
He revealed that Certificates of Return for Governors and Deputy-Governors-elect, Members of State Houses of Assembly-elect and Chairmen and Councillors for the FCT shall be presented in each State of the Federation by the Supervising National Commissioners and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on a date to be announced next week.
Yakubu stressed that in the course of securing the elections, the security agencies, electoral officials and innocent Nigerians have suffered needless attacks resulting in casualties including deaths and the loss of personal and official properties.
He said the commission was glad that the Police had made several arrests and investigation wa ongoing, while also assuring Nigerians that the Commission would work closely with the Police to ensure the diligent prosecution of all violators of the electoral laws.