22nd November, 2010
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has asked the Independent National ElectoralÂ Commission (INEC) to urgently launch a physical audit of all polling booths in theÂ country, against the backdrop of allegations that 30,000 of the 120,000 figure beingÂ bandied around are non-existent.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, AlhajiÂ Lai Mohammed, the party said the issue is very important because it could affect theÂ success of next year’s polls.
”Because of the published allegation that some 30,000 voting centres areÂ non-existent, we are constrained to call on INEC to conduct a thorough audit of allÂ polling booths, including their locations and physical addresses, and make theÂ report of such audit available to all political parties, so they can raise anyÂ concerns they may have. This will also enable INEC to respond robustly to theÂ allegation.
”We say this because of the implication of accommodating non-existent pollingÂ booths in the preparations for the polls. With about 500 votes per booth, it simplyÂ means that some 15 millions votes are available for mischief makers who can use theÂ huge number to swing any election, thus ruining the chances of a free, fair andÂ credible elections promised Nigerians by President Goodluck Jonathan and INECÂ Chairman, Attahiru Jega.
”It also means that one-quarter of the huge resources allocated to INEC for theÂ acquisition of Direct Data Capture machines and the conduct of the registrationÂ exercise will either be wasted or embezzelled,” ACN said.
The party also called on INEC to start planning to commission a video recording ofÂ all that will transpire at every polling booth during the voting process, and makeÂ copies of the video tapes available to all political parties.
”We are aware that INEC has said there willl be no no-go areas for internationalÂ observers during the elections. This is good. But we want INEC to go one stepÂ further by commissioning official videographers in every polling booth across theÂ country. ”This will definitely curb incidences of ballot stuffing, hijacking ofÂ ballot boxes and the perpetration of violence around polling centres. It will alsoÂ ensure that once results are announced at every polling booth, they cannot beÂ changed at the collation centres.
”Concerns over cost should not be a hindrance, since we are sure political partiesÂ will be willing to assist INEC, if necessary, in this regard. After all, it will beÂ cheaper to ensure a free and fair election than to embark on years of costlyÂ litigation, as we are currently experiencing,” it said.
ACN said it is compelled to make the suggestions above because it believes thatÂ while there may be little to give one cause for joy in the preparations so far, theÂ party is made up of incurable optimists about ‘Project Nigeria’, and thereforeÂ wishes to support and encourage INEC to get it right in 2011.