By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said its headquarters in Owerri will be used for the collation and declaration of results for the 5 Dec. bye-election in Imo North Senatorial District.
Festus Okoye, its National Commissioner, and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, said this in Abuja on Tuesday.
Okoye said the decision was taken on Tuesday at the commission’s meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from 11 states where by-elections would be holding.
He said that the meeting was also attended by other RECs who would support them.
According to him, the decision to move the collation centre to the state headquarters is to forestall deliberate disruption of collation of election results in the senatorial district.
“The commission has had very difficult experiences managing elections in the Imo North Senatorial District over the years, particularly regarding repeated attempts to disrupt collation of results.
“The commission has put in place additional measures to ensure that this does not happen again.
“One of such measure is to beef up security in the senatorial district during and in the immediate aftermath of polls,” he said.
According to him, the commission has also decided that 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,” he said.
Okoye appealed to all stakeholders in the constituency to cooperate with its officials, including security agencies, to ensure that the decision was implemented peacefully.
He said that INEC would not hesitate to apply relevant sanctions to individuals or political parties that may disrupt the process.
Okoye, who said that the RECs at the meeting briefed the commission on the level of preparations in their respective states, expressed INEC’s satisfaction with their level of preparations.
He noted that all states had 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 of Nigeria (CBN) Offices in their state and the few remaining states will receive theirs by the end of work today (Tuesday).
“These situation reports were corroborated by national commissioners who are already in the States to oversee the elections,” he said.
Okoye said that the security agencies had reassured the INEC of their continue professional support for the upcoming by-elections, devoid of any partisan inclinations to reproduce the quality of elections witnessed in the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections.
“The commission reminds 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 face masks and to maintain the recommended social distance at the polling units,” he said.