The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has alleged plans to deploy food vendors around polling units by politicians as vote-buying agents in the forthcoming general elections.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, made this known on Monday, in Abuja, when he hosted delegation from the European Union (EU) Observation Team, led by Chief Observer, Mrs Maria Arena.
Yakubu said that the commission is doing all it can to ensure that every vote counts and issues like vote buying are dealt with.
According to him, the electoral body has placed a partial ban on mobile phones and other electronic devices by voters while in the voting cubicles.
“We are also introducing the rolling and flattening of ballot papers by voters on day of election.
“We are training our election duty staff, in addition to voter education and sensitization, on this new innovation. We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the sanctity of the ballot.’’
The chairman also refuted claims that the commission gave partisan individuals the contract of employing election ad-hoc staff ahead of the election.
“In addition, there is a clearly established system of vetting all election duty staff before they are engaged.
“Therefore, the claim that the Commission has outsourced the recruitment of election duty staff to partisan actors is the usual allegation on the eve of elections and should be disregarded.
“With 25 days to the 2019 General Elections, the Commission’s attention is firmly focused on the conduct of credible elections. We will not be distracted into a fatuous debate.’’
Yakubu stated that complaints arising from the collection of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) were being addressed.
“We are committed to ensuring that all voter cards are made available for collection by registered voters who should collect the cards in person.
“There will be no collection by proxy.”
Yakubu described the EU as one of the long-standing partners of INEC in deepening Nigeria’s electoral democracy, through the EU-Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN).
“We have implemented all the recommendations made by the EU Mission in 2015 that are within the powers of the Commission to do.
“These include simultaneous accreditation and voting system which we introduced on Jan. 9, 2016 and used it to seamlessly conduct off-season elections into 194 constituencies.
“We have similarly introduced the continuous registration of voters. Over a period of 16 months, from April 27, 2017 to Aug. 3, 2018, over 14 million new voters were registered,” he said.
While speaking, the leader of the EU delegation, Mrs Maria Arena revealed that the Union has made arrangement for 40 election observers to be deployed to all the states during the elections.
Arena added that the EU would also have its Parliamentary observation mission on ground during the exercise.
“We will issue two preliminary reports after the elections. We will work strongly with all the stakeholders of this country.
“We will also have the final reports two months after the elections, with recommendations.
“We really appreciate the work that INEC has done with the previous recommendations after the 2015 elections,” Arena said.