Burnt Card Readers Won’t Stop Ondo Poll, Says INEC Chairman

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Mahmood Yakubu
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

•Commences mobilisation of cards from neighbouring states
•IG deploys DIG, 8 CPs, others for Edo election

By Kingsley Nwezeh and Kasim Sumaina 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disclosed, in Abuja yesterday, that the October 10 gubernatorial election in Ondo State would go ahead as planned despite the fire incident that burned its Card Readers meant for the election.

Also in a statement yesterday, the Police Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, said the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu had deployed the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Research and Planning, Adeleye Olusola Oyebade, to supervise the security arrangement for the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State.

National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated that the Edo and Ondo states’ elections would go as planned, during an interactive session with stakeholders and Civil Society Organisations, convened by the National Peace Committee in Abuja yesterday.

Yakubu observed that the 5,100 Card Readers programmed for use for the election were razed in the inferno that broke out on Thursday night, adding that investigation was on to unravel the cause of the fire.

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

“Let me give you a little bit of statistics; we require 4,100 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 1,000 Card Readers from our office in Osun State.

“So, we had 5,100 Smart Card Readers and we were good to go for the Ondo election but, unfortunately, from the reports I’m getting, we lost the 5,100 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 would 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 5,000 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 also stated that the commission was ready for the Edo State poll and that it would not be postponed.

According to him, “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 postponement of the election.

“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 on the Election Day from the situation room here in Abuja. There are numbers of activities, we will be supervising the preparation of the commission, we will be holding stakeholders’ meeting on Tuesday and on 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 they learned some lessons from the burnt card readers in Ondo, stating, “We are taking measures to ensure that there is no repeat of this kind of incident in Edo State.”

Speaking on security during the election, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, represented by DIG Oyebode, said Police officers deployed for the election would be guided by the Police Code of Conduct.

According to him, the IGP 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 were 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, stated 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.

He said: “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 in the hands of God.”

IGP Deploys DIG, 8 CPs, Others for Edo Election

Meanwhile, the police spokesperson, Mba explained in the statement that Oyebade’s deployment was to ensure peaceful conduct of the electon in Edo State, adding that he would be assisted by an Assistant Inspector General of Police, (AIG) Karma Hosea Hassan, who is in charge of federal operations at the Force Headquarters Abuja and eight commissioners of police.

The statement said the DIG, with the assistance of the AIG, would superintend the entire security architecture and ensure effective monitoring of the election and enforcement of all electoral laws.

Other senior police officers similarly involved (in election monitoring and evaluation) include: CP Garba Baba Umar; CP Habu Sani; and CP Buba Sanusi, while CP Akeera M. Yonous would coordinate the operations of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) and other special strike forces.

The statement by DCP Mba said four CPs would supervise security arrangement in the three senatorial districts of the state.

They are CP Omololu S. Bishi and CP Abutu Yaro for Edo North Senatorial District; CP Philip Aliyu Ogbadu, Edo Central Senatorial District; and CP Olokade T. Olawale, Edo South Senatorial District.

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police has barred security aides attached to VIPs and political appointees from accompanying their principals on the election day.

The IG warned that anyone who flout the order would be severely reprimanded.

He charged officers and men on election duties in the state to ensure they work in line with best practices and adhere strictly to the approved code of conduct and rules of engagement for the elections.

Adamu further called on members of the public, particularly politicians, gubernatorial candidates and other relevant stakeholders in the state to cooperate with the police and other security agencies in the patriotic task of guaranteeing a hitch-free gubernatorial poll.