Ondo: INEC seeks traditional rulers, lawmakers support for Electoral Offences Tribunal

• We are prepared for Ondo election ― INEC chairman

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has sought for the support of traditional rulers to ensure the immediate establishment of the Electoral Offences Tribunal as part of its measures to stem election malpractices in the country.

The chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this appeal on Thursday in Akure, Ondo State capital, during an interaction with traditional rulers in the state, over the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

The INEC boss charged the monarchs to prevail on their representatives at the National Assembly representatives to ensure the passage of the Electoral offences bill for the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission Tribunal

Yakubu who said the establishment would not only stem down electoral offences but it will also help to deepen democracy in the country.

He attributed the inability of the commission to effectively prosecute electoral offenders to the lack of Electoral Laws but said the commission had to rely on the police for the arrest, investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders.

He noted that many of the offenders many of the cases are not concluded and swept under the carpet, but however said the commission was able to prosecute 40 electoral offenders in one of the south-west states recently.

According to him, the commission would have been happier if sponsors of the offenders, were arrested and prosecuted because the perpetrators are actually not the beneficiaries of the offences.

Yakubu promised that the commission, would continue to do its best to discourage vote-buying, but noted that politicians had been outsmarting the commission by devising a new method to ensure inducement of voters.

He, however, promised that the commission, would improve on its achievements during the last week’s exercise in Edo State and said: “The provisions of Electoral Law on the issue of violence and cancellation fee of votes in the affected areas would be continued to be implemented in line with Section 53 of the Law.

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“The INEC shall conduct the election in.line with the COVID-19 protocols and shall not allow any person without face mask to vote during the election.

“We shall not allow the use of temporary voter cards in place of Permanent Voter Cards because the card readers can only read PVCs and the commission cannot rely on the names on temporary voter cards.”

Yakubu appealed to the traditional rulers to ensure violence-free election in their domains and said: “The election in Edo State was good. We are determined to make the Ondo State Election better. The electorate in Ondo State are the one that will determine who their governor be.

“The INEC achieved 98 per cent use of Card Reader in Edo State Election. We are ready to improve on our performances in Edo State.

“It was in Ondo State isolated election that we first recorded an exercise that was not challenged in court. After that, we have conducted up to 10 other elections that were not challenged.

“We are appealing to you as the custodians of customs to collaborate with the commission by talking to your subjects to ensure that we have a free, fair and credible poll. INEC is ready to perform its functions.”

Speaking on the commission’s preparation towards the election in the state, said Z-Pads will be introduced during the governorship election in the state for swift uploading of results during the election.

He said: “We are ready for the election. The same preparation we made for Edo is the same we will make for Ondo. For the purpose of this visit is for us to see practically what the state office has done, we also need to engage some of the stakeholders.

“We have met with the council of traditional rulers, and then thereafter the security agencies. We will meet with our staff; we have requested that all our staff in the 18 local governments come to Akure on Friday. We will use the opportunity to see the level of preparation.

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“We will be back in a week’s time for stakeholders’ meeting and the signing of the peace accord. But this visit is essentially to meet our own officials to see the level of preparation.

“Equally and importantly, we will use the Z-pads to upload the results on the election day in real-time. We have moved the Z-pads from Edo to Ondo State for the election. At the polling units, you will see both cards readers and the Z-pads. So, we are fully prepared for the election.

He said further that “we have produced many education voting materials for prints and electronic media to educate the voters, encourage voters turnout to encourage better participation of people living with disabilities in the electoral process.

“From the experience of Edo State, we will continue to emphasis the need for a peaceful election and the importance of the health instructions in the era of COVID 19, no face mask no voting.

“Every eligible voter who is on the queue before 2:30 pm will be allowed to vote even if voting goes beyond 2:30 pm, no one will be disenfranchised.

He urged journalists covering the election to help “expose vote buyers during the election. There are still some people who attempt to compromise the integrity of the process and where that happens please don’t hesitate to help us expose them and we will be very grateful if you do so.

“As journalists, you’re not only reporters but citizens with responsibilities. Kindly report to the commission any malpractices you witness so that we can respond immediately even if the election is ongoing.

“I want to assure you that INEC will remain neutral, we remain professional and nothing but the Ondo State people will determine who becomes the next governor of Ondo State.”

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