Don’t compound security woes in Anambra, INEC warns parties

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Don’t compound security woes in Anambra, INEC warns parties

…As registered voters increase to 2,525,471

By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja

Ahead of the November 6 Governorship Election in Anambra state, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has again warned political parties against resorting to violence and intimidation in their electioneering, saying such could compound the already worse security situation in the state.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this Friday in Abuja at an emergency meeting with political parties.

According to him, the number of registered voters in the state has now increased to over 2.5 million.

Yakubu recalled how in May this year, the INEC State office in Awka was attacked and the main building, collation centre and store were either completely or partially damaged.

Also damaged in the attacks were 60% of non-sensitive materials for the election, including 326 generating sets and several Hilux vehicles, which INEC had assembled at Awka.

“I am glad to report that we have fully recovered from that attack. The buildings have been completely reconstructed and renovated in readiness for the election. All the non-sensitive materials have either been procured afresh or sourced from neighbouring States and our Zonal stores. We are working assiduously with security agencies to ensure that such an attack does not happen again.

“However, security remains a major challenge to our preparations. For the political parties, these heinous attacks have truncated campaigns, making voter mobilization and sensitization impossible.

“Consequently, Anambra State is not in the usual election mood. It is in the light of the security situation in the State that the Commission held an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) last Tuesday. The meeting was frank and productive. We are assured of the determination of the security agencies to protect voters, election staff, election observers, the media, transport providers and candidates during the election.

“Already, security around INEC facilities in the State has been ramped up. We are also confident that the heightened deployment of security officials, which is expected in the coming weeks, will further give citizens the confidence to turn up and vote on Election Day. We shall continue to work with the security agencies to ensure that the election is successful and violence-free.

“I wish to appeal to all political parties and candidates not to exacerbate the feeling of insecurity in Anambra State through unguarded utterances and actions. This could compound the security situation and make the work of the Commission, political parties and security agencies even more difficult. It may also lead to voter apathy.

“This moment calls for statesmanship and maturity hence the decision to convene this emergency meeting. We are confident that the outcome of this engagement will be productive and helpful to the Commission and political parties as we continue to prepare for the Anambra Governorship holding on Saturday 6th November 2021”, he added.

On the number of registered voters, Yakubu recalled that before the end of the First Quarter of the Continuous Voter Registration CVR nationwide, INEC had devolved the exercise to the Wards or Registration Areas in Anambra State.

In Anambra State, he said a total of 138, 802 citizens completed the registration, including applications for transfer and requests for replacement of lost, damaged or defaced Permanent Voter Cards PVCs as required by law.

“However, in the process of cleaning up the registration data, we discovered that many previously registered persons re-registered afresh. As a testimony to the effectiveness of our new system for checking double and multiple registrations, the Commission found out that some 62,698 persons who are already registered voters in Anambra State went ahead to register again. These double or multiple registrations are invalid by law. We have archived these registrations and will not print new PVCs for them.

“Their old PVCs remain valid and they can use them to vote at the Polling Units where they registered and probably voted in previously elections. The same cleaning up exercise is going on nationwide. As soon as it is over, the Commission will provide further details to Nigerians on the situation in other States of the Federation and action to be taken on the matter.

“Consequently, the number of valid registrants in Anambra State at the end of the First Quarter of the CVR exercise on 5th September 2021 is 77,475. This figure has been added to the existing register of 2,447,996 eligible voters used for the 2019 General Election.

“Accordingly, the number of registered voters in Anambra State now stands at 2,525,471. We shall provide a detailed breakdown of the figure for public information in the days ahead”, he added.

Yakubu again confirmed that the commission has almost completed the recruitment of ad hoc staff for the election, adding that about 26,000 election duty staff are required.

“Although there are still some minor shortfalls, we believe that we will complete the recruitment in time for their training scheduled to commence on 19th October 2021. The training of other categories of staff, such as Electoral Officers (EOs) and Assistant Electoral Officers (AEOs) has been completed, while the training of Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) will commence soon”, he stated.

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