30th January, 2015
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Ahead of the February 14 and 28 general in elections, 14,000 Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs, have disappeared in Rivers State, southern Nigeria.
This figure accounts for a state with one of the highest numbers of missing cards in the country.
Mrs Gesila Khan, the Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, raised the alarm in a chat with journalists in Port Harcourt, and announced that contrary to the number of distributed PVCs published in a national daily, Rivers State received 2,990,056 PVCs and distributed 1,869,379, which is 89 percent contrary to the number published.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had earlier warned politicians and their supporters that the era of snatching of PVCs or ballot boxes and other election materials during polls was over.
Khan had handed down this warning in one of the interactive sessions she had with leaders of political parties in the state, adding that the era where some politicians write election results in hotels or elsewhere had passed.
She stressed that some measures put in place by the commission had made such malpractices unnecessary, maintaining that it would be difficult for anybody to write election results within a place not recognised by the constitution.
She pledged that INEC was going to do its best to ensure that only the outcome of the general elections was announced and not anything contrary.
“The era where election materials like PVCs disappear into thin air has passed. The era where politicians sit in a hotel or elsewhere and write results is over. This is because PVCs are like ATM cards that are personalised.”
She explained that on election day Card Readers would be used to individually identify ownership of PVC.
“So, it will be useless stealing other people’s PVCs. Those who snatched PVCs across the state should return them to the nearest INEC offices in local government headquarters.
She asked politicians to go and canvass for votes and let the people decide because nobody is going to write results anywhere.
Mrs Khan said results that would be announced are the ones collated on the field.
Explaining why it would be difficult for anybody to rig the forthcoming elections, Khan added that different ballot papers would be posted to various local government areas.
The REC pointed out that each local government area would have a different colour attached to it while the result sheets would be coded according to the area they would be used.
Khan, however, urged the political parties in the area to support INEC’s determination to conduct a free and fair election, and urged politicians to eschew violence before, during and after the polls.