INEC: 4940 BVAS Machines Configured for Polls in Niger State

•Begins distribution of sensitive materials 

•February 25 elections: Commission failed, deserves sanction, says ex-army provost marshall

Laleye Dipo in Minna, Fidelis David in Akure and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has completed the configuration of 4940 Biomodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines for use in Saturdays governorship and houses of assembly elections in Niger state.

The State Resident Electoral Commissioner Alhaji  Yushau Ahmed Garki, who disclosed this in Minna yesterday, at the commencement of the distribution of sensitive  materials to be used for the elections, said the configuration was successfully  completed on Tuesday.

He said the BVAS machines also went through, “quality assurance tests.”

Assuring that everything had been put in place to ensure that the elections were hitch free, Garki said the Commission had met with the Agency Consultative Committee to ensure early delivery of materials at all the polling units on Saturday.

He disclosed that election would not hold in 10 units which he did not disclose.

Garki, confirmed that two ad hoc staff that participated in the presidential and National Assembly elections have been arrested by the Police for alleged theft of one BVAS machine promising that once investigation was completed, they would be charged to court.

The Branch Controller of the CBN in Minna, Mr. Ademola Saheed Mohammed, in an interview, said materials for the election in the 25 local government areas of the state ” Were received intact and handed over to INEC intact.”

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) collation agent, Alhaji Sani Kutigi applauded the distribution process saying, “so far we don’t have any problem.”

Kutigi, who was also the collation agent at the presidential and national assembly election results where he declined to sign the results sheet insisted that INEC “wrote” results for APC in bandits infested areas where voting did not take place.

Asked if he was not aware that IDPs were taken to safer grounds where they cast their ballots, Kutigi said the results showed they voted in their original polling units.

The State Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Committee IPAC Alhaji Mohammed Bello commended the distribution exercise but said INEC should improve on its last performance.

Mohammed said a comprehensive report on the last election had been written by IPAC and submitted to INEC.

Meanwhile, in Ondo State, INEC yesterday, commenced the distribution of the sensitive and non-sensitive materials in Ondo State, ahead of Saturday’s House of Assembly election.

Ondo is one of the eight states where governorship election would not hold on Saturday, because the incumbent Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, would complete his second term in office in 2024. However, the electorates in the state are already warming up to storm the 3,933 polling units and 203 political wards across the 18 local government areas of the state, where they will cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.

Addressing journalists during the distribution, the Acting Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in the State, Oyekola Oyelami, said the materials being distributed by INEC at the premises of the CBN, included ballot papers and results sheet.

Oyelami, who was flanked by other officers of the electoral commission, said it would deploy the BVAS machines for the exercise in Ondo state, stressing that the electronic machines had been re-configured after its usage for the February 25 presidential and National Assembly election, noting that it would not be used for the March 18 – State’s parliament election.

He noted that the materials would be transported to all 18 Local Government Areas of the State where they would be moved to the commission’s Registration Area Centres (RACs) before the polling units on Saturday.

“By Thursday, these materials would be batched from there while on Friday, the materials would arrive at the RAC centers where they would pass the night and as early as 6 am on Saturday, they would be moved to the various polling units for the election. Aside from these, we would also be deploying the BVAS which has been reconfigured for the Saturday exercise. So, all of them are working perfectly now and would be used in the polling units,” the REC said.

While expressing INEC’s readiness for the election, Mr Oyelami said that out of the 18 political parties that registered in the country, only 17 fielded candidates to participate in the House of Assembly election in the state.

“These political parties have already fielded their candidates that would participate in the Assembly election on Saturday and we have deployed our staff too for the timely arrival of material to the polling units. The (electorates) should come out en mass because these lawmakers are the ones that would be making laws on their behalf,” Oyelami said.

The Chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), in the State, Adesanya Olaoluwa, who witnessed the distribution of the materials said the political parties are ready for the election.

In the meantime, a former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army and a South-South leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Brigadier-General Idada Ikponmwen (rtd), yesterday, berated INEC over its failure to adhere to the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act in the conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Speaking to journalists in Benin City, Edo State, Ikponmwen said INEC raised the hope of having a free, fair and credible elections, devoid of violence, ballot box snatching by the introduction of BVAS in the 2022 Electoral Act, “but disappointed Nigerians by its failure to transmit the results of the presidential election results electronically through the BVAS.”

“I must say that INEC failed! Most international observers, including many ambassadors in Nigeria condemned the result. The reasonable thing for INEC to do was to address the complains, add the results that were not coming, decided what to do with the areas where there were violence, before you announce the result.

“In all I can’t give a pass mark to the INEC authorities and I think under any circumstance they ought to be sanctioned. It is either something is properly done or it’s not done at all. You can’t say you have done it, where you have not done it well!

“If INEC does not want to keep the provision of the Electoral Act of 2022, why did they do it?

“Why did you give Nigerians false hope? Nigerians were rejoicing that we now have solution for violence, snatching of ballot boxes and other things. In all INEC has failed and cannot be commended.

“I know those who contested the election are agrieved, but at the end of the day, they will not be the only one that will be aggrieved. What is wrong is that those who conducted the election did not follow the procedure in our laws.

“If anything goes wrong in evaporating the constitutional provision of our land, or at the end of the day the wrong person gets there, it will be a burden on the mind of those people who voted. With all the electronics that were used, a lot of people are not happy with the procedure adopted by INEC, particular the way the results were announced, even when the chairman of INEC said, he will look into the grievances of those who have complaints.”

On the Saturday governorship and Houses of Assembly elections, the retired general and constitutional lawyer said, “what should be paramount is that Nigerians vote for those with the interest of the public at heart.”

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