INEC: We’ll Not Pre-empt Committee’s Report on Imo North Senatorial District

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Mahmood Yakubu
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

To release timetable for Bayelsa, Kogi elections this week

Deji Elumoye and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it would not pre-empt the deliberations and recommendations of the committee it set up to investigate the issue surrounding Imo North senatorial district election.

The electoral body insisted that its inability to take any further action warranted the setting up of the committee.

This is coming as the Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday revealed that the timetable for governorship elections in both Kogi and Bayelsa states would be released this week.

A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations had given INEC 24 hours’ ultimatum, to issue the Certificate of Return to Senator Ben Uwajimogu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or it would have no choice than to occupy the headquarters of the commission.

The coalition claimed that Uwajimogu, was returned elected as a Senator representing Imo North on March 9, 2019, in a supplementary election, but subsequently denied a Certificate of Return by the commission.

It added that INEC cannot be the umpire and at the same time usurping the function of the judiciary.

However, responding to THISDAY’s enquiry yesterday, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, recalled that the commission issued an official statement relating to the Imo North senatorial Election last week.

He stated: “The commission determined that there are issues that need further inquiry. And based on this, the commission set up a committee to investigate it.

“The committee is already sitting and will submit its report to the commission on or before April 10, 2019. It will be presumptuous to pre-empt the deliberations and recommendations of the committee.

“The commission has not reached any conclusion on the issue and that accounts for the setting up of the committee. The commission will make its findings public,” he added.

Meanwhile, the INEC’s chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu yesterday revealed that the timetable for governorship elections in both Kogi and Bayelsa states would be released this week.

Yakubu, who made this known while defending the 2019 budget estimate of the commission before the joint national assembly committee on INEC, stated that before the end of this week, the timetable and schedule of activities for the gubernatorial poll in the two states will be made public.

“This year we are going to conduct two-end of tenure elections into the offices of the governor in Kogi and Bayelsa States, meaning that towards the end of the year we are going to conduct governorship elections at different times in the two states .

“Let me seize this opportunity here to say that before the end of this week INEC will issue a timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States”.

Commenting on the 2019 INEC budget estimate, Yakubu observed that the commission was receiving same envelop amount of N45.5 billion as in 2017 and 2018.

“For 2019, we were presented with an envelope of N45.5 billion as our regular budget. This is the same envelope as in 2018 only slightly better than the envelopes of several years before them.

“In 2017 it was N45 billion in 2016 it was N45 billion and in 2018 it was increased marginally to N45.5 billion and the same envelope was presented to the commission in 2018 and 2019.”

He noted that in terms of performance of the commission’s budget in the previous year, INEC was fully funded.

“I will say for the 2018 financial year we were fully funded; we were on the first line charge so in terms of the releases from the executive to the Commission we were fully funded,” Yakubu said .

The INEC boss further gave a breakdown of the proposed N45.5 billion, which he explained were in four components.

According to him, “the first one is personnel cost and in 2019 the commission is proposing the sum of N21.8 billion naira to cover consolidated salaries for 16,455 career employees of INEC and 51 political office holders, making a total of 16,506 employees of the commission in 2019.

“The personnel cost is broken into two subheads, you have the consolidated salary of N17.5 billion and you have the social contribution, National Health Insurance, contributory pension, and employee compensation of N4.3 billion”.

The second component, he further explained, is the overhead cost put at N4.2 billion naira while the third budget head is for electoral expenditure.

“The commission is proposing the sum of N17.7 billion under the electoral expenditure to cover such activities as monitoring party primaries, conventions, voter education, stakeholders meeting, legal expenses,” he explained.

Yakubu, however, said “the biggest expenditure item is the conduct of elections for which we are earmarking the sum of N3.3 billion for the foreseen and unforeseen elections.