Fire Incident Won’t Affect Ondo Election, Says INEC Chair

Mahmood Yakubu
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

*insists commission not contemplating postponing Edo poll

•Be guided by police code of conduct, IGP tells deployed officers

By Kasim Sumaina 

Ahead of the October 10 gubernatorial election in Ondo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Friday in Abuja said despite the fire incident that destroyed Card Readers meant for the election, the governorship poll will still go ahead as planned.

The commission has also said it is not contemplating postponing the September 19 Edo election.

INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this in Abuja during an interactive session with stakeholders and Civil Society Organizations, convened by the National Peace Committee.

He said the 5100 Card Readers programmed for use for the election were razed in the inferno that on Thursday night, adding that investigation is on to unravel the cause of the fire.

Yakubu said: “we received the sad news last night of fire incident involving the container housing the Smart Card Readers.”

According to him, let me give you a little bit of statistics, we require 4100 Smart Card Readers for the Ondo election and additional 100 for training, so that the adhoc Staff are properly trained using the Smart Card Reader. So we got 1000 Card Readers from our office in Osun State.

“So we had 5100 Smart Card Readers good to go for the Ondo election but unfortunately from the reports
I am getting, we lost the 5100 Smart Card Readers in that container.”

He stressed that the commission had recovered from the incident, adding that he was glad to say the Ondo election will go ahead as planned.

“We have huge capacity in the neighbouring state to get additional Smart Card Readers and I had a discussion with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Oyo State and we have 700 Smart Card Readers there, so getting 5000 Smart Card Readers to support Ondo won’t be an issue at all. This is not a general election that is holding nationwide, it is an off season election,” Yakubu explained.

He further stated that the fire only affected the container housing the Smart Card Readers, noting that it was the same container that was used in 2015, 2016 and 2019, “so it is not that we moved the Smart Card Readers to an unsafe place.

The INEC boss further hinted that the commission was ready for the Edo State poll.

According to him, “yes, in September 2016, the Edo governorship election for reasons known to Nigerians was postponed for two weeks but it had nothing to do with the preparation of the Commission.

“We know advice came for the postponment of the election. Is it going to happen again, not as far as INEC preparations are concerned. We are ready and good to go. INEC is not contemplating postponment of the election.”

Continuing, he said: “Personally I will be in Edo State tomorrow and will remain in Edo till Wednesday and I’m only leaving Edo on Wednesday to watch what happens in the election day from the situation room here in Abuja, there are numbers of activities, one, we will be supervising the preparation of the commission, we will be holding stakeholders meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday is the signing of the peace accord under the auspices of the National Peace Committee. So, as far as INEC is concerned, we are ready and not even contemplating the postponement of the Edo election.”

He, however said that learning from what happened in Ondo, in terms of the burnt card readers, “we are taking measures to ensure that there is no repeat of this kind of incident in Edo State,” Yakubu said.

Speaking in similar vein, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, represented by Adeleke Oyebode, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Research and Documentation, who is in charge of Edo election, said that Police officers deployed for the election will be guided by the Police Code of Conduct.

According to him, the Inspector General of Police has advised the officers and men deployed for the special assignment to abide by the Nigerian Police Code of Conduct. He added that the Nigerian Police Force has a well articulated Code of Conduct to ensure that Police Officers do the needful during their assignment at the election duties.

He assured that the Police was ready to ensure a peaceful election, saying, “nobody can stand on the way of this election.”

Bishop of Sokoto Diocese and member of the National Peace Committee, Hassan Kukah, said that the meeting was convened by the Chairman of the National Peace Committee and former Head of State, Abdulsalam Abubakar, to encourage the various agencies, especially INEC and to help inspire confidence.

“You have been adequately briefed on the level of preparedness, the rest is for us Nigerians to do the thing we do best, which is to pray and then we also hope that the people of Edo State will enjoy a very peaceful election, the rest we leave into the hands of God,” he said.