The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed its readiness for the conduct of tomorrow’s 15 by-elections in 11 states slated for Saturday.
In Imo state, the election is to hold in Imo North senatorial district, which became vacant following the death of Senator Ben Uwajumogu.
Altogether 14 candidates are to battle it out in the district, which has six local government areas.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, said in a statement after a meeting was held with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from the 11 states where the by-elections were scheduled to hold on 5 December and other RECs who will support them that after the commission’s management meeting in Abuja, that all materials have been delivered to the affected states.
However the tactics adopted for Imo North, according to him, is different from other elections. According to him, instead of collating results at the constituencies, the results would be collated at the INEC head office .
He said that the change in tactics was necessitated by repeated attempts to disrupt collation of results.
As part of measures to prevent this, he said that the commission has put in place additional measures to ensure that this does not happen again, one of which measure was collation of results at the headquarters and beefing up of security in the Senatorial District during and in the immediate aftermath of polls.
“The commission has also decided that in order to forestall deliberate disruption of collation of results, the collation of Local Government level results will not take place in the constituency.
“Instead, after collation of results at the Registration Areas, all results shall be moved to the State Headquarters of the Commission in Owerri for Local Government Collation and declaration of results.
“This is consistent with the powers of the commission to designate collation centres and inform stakeholders. The commission wishes to appeal to all stakeholders in the constituency to cooperate with its officials, including security agencies, to ensure that this decision is implemented peacefully and would not hesitate to apply relevant sanctions to individuals or political parties that may disrupt the process,” Okoye said.
The statement said, “The RECs briefed the commission on the level of preparations in their states and the Commission is satisfied that preparations are going on very well. All the states have received all the non-sensitive materials, trained their staff and received all the funds for the by-elections.
“Most of the states have also had their sensitive materials delivered to the Central Bank Offices in their State Headquarters and the few remaining states will receive theirs by the end of work today. These situation reports were corroborated by National Commissioners who are already in the states to oversee the elections,” Okoye said.
He said that the RECs also reported that they have engaged fully with stakeholders on the by-elections, while the security agencies have all reassured the commission that they will continue to provide professional support to the commission for the upcoming bye-elections devoid of any partisan inclinations in order to reproduce the quality of elections that the nation saw in the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections.
He said, “The commission wishes to remind voters and all stakeholders that the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much with us. Consequently, everybody that will be involved in the elections is reminded of the subsisting guidelines and protocols as clearly contained in the Commission’s policy on the Conduct of Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“Particularly, voters are reminded to wear facemasks/face coverings and to maintain the recommended social distance at the polling units.”