INEC mulls fresh polls in violence prone areas

•May prosecute staff over Smart Card Reader

The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has said it might conduct fresh polls in areas where elections did not hold at all or was disrupted as a result of violence.

Tribune Online checks revealed that the electoral process was disrupted in certain areas in Lagos, Anambra and Rivers state.

Barrister Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman Voters Education and Publicity Committee of INEC made the revelation of fresh polls while updating newsmen on reports the Commission gathered from its men on the field,  across the states of the federation.

He acknowledged reports of violence in Akoko/Toru and Bonny local government areas of Rivers state where he noted election did not hold.

He told newsmen that his Commission would base its action of fresh polls in these areas based on the official reports submitted by Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs from the affected states.

He said:” The Commission has also received a report of violence and ballot box snatching in some areas leading to the disruption of the process. We have asked the Resident Electoral Commissioners and officers of the Commission on the ground to submit their first-hand report in relation to some of these incidents. We are still receiving reports of incidents in some states of the federation.

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“We have received reports in relation to Akoko/Toru and Bonny local government areas of Rivers state.

“So long as the Commission didn’t deploy in these areas, the implications is that voting didn’t open in these areas and the Commission will hold consultations with the relevant authorities and the REC in relation to those areas and will announce when polls will take place in these areas, especially as regards to the areas that may be affected with regards to House of Representatives and senatorial elections.”

“In relation to the issues of the burning of election materials,  we have reports of some of these incidents in Anambra and as I pointed out, we have reports in Rivers, Lagos and we have reports in some of the other states.

We have asked the RECs in these states to give us their report after confirming the authenticity of the reports from the relevant officers who are on ground.

So, the moment we get the verified reports, from the RECs, we will take a decision in relation to these areas.

” As I said, it isn’t only in Rivers that we have reports of violence. We have reports of burning of election materials in Lagos and also the burning of election materials in some parts of Anambra state and Rivers. We need to clarify, we need to be sure about these reports before we take a final decision in relation to these. So, what we are waiting for is the official reports from some of the RECs.”

Okoye threatened that the Commission would prosecute its officials who deliberately frustrate the use of Smart Card Readers in the course of the elections just as he confessed the malfunctioning of the item.

He restated his earlier position that the Commission has directed that the voting period be extended in polling units where commencement of voting was delayed as a result of malfunctioning of the Smart Card Reader or the late arrival of sensitive materials

” Any of them that refuses to use the Smart Card Reader or deliberately refused to use the Smart Card Reader or deliberately frustrated the use of Smart Card Reader is subject to prosecution, in accordance with the regulations and guidelines of the Commission and the electoral act.

“The report we had was that the Smart Card Reader issue was resolved but  in any state where the SCR wasn’t resolved, the standard operating procedure as we have in regulations and guidelines is that election will continue the following day but we have said this morning that in all the places where voting started late,  the Commission has extended the time of closing of polls until every person that is on queue vote.”

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