Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured Nigerians of its readiness to review allegations of voter inducement, harassment and manipulation of results in the 2023 general polls.
The nation’s electoral umpire insisted that it is committed to the sanctity of the electoral process and would not hesitate to take drastic measures against proven irregularities.
This is even as the commission lamented the the abduction, harassment, intimidation, hospitalisation, and in one case, killing of its staff during the polls.
National commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, stated this while briefing journalists at the National Situation Room in Abuja yesterday.
According to Okoye, the commission earlier alerted the nation on the invasion of its office at Obingwa local government area of Abia State by thugs during the collation of results for the governorship and state assembly elections.
He said in contention was the collated results for the governorship election in that local government area.
“The intention was to force the collation of these contentious results. The behaviour of these thugs is unacceptable and there will be a thorough review of the results,” he said.
Okoye said the commission does not take the patience of citizens for granted and will continue to take steps to protect the integrity of the vote and consolidate the progress made so far in the electoral process.
At the moment, he said the collation of results and declaration of winners for the 28 governorship and 993 atate assembly elections are ongoing nationwide.
Noting that the commission is committed to the sanctity of the process and will not hesitate to take drastic measures against proven irregularities, the commissioner said, “Allegations of voter inducement, harassment, and manipulation of results will be reviewed and addressed”.
He stressed that the commission has left no stone unturned as far as the processes and procedures under the control of the commission are concerned.
“However, for difficult and unforeseen circumstances outside the Commission’s control, we did our best to respond, especially where processes were disrupted by actors over whom we have little or no control.
“Such diabolical behaviour did not only affect citizens but also impacted on the Commission’s officials and processes. INEC staff, both regular and ad hoc were victims of violence.
“Some of our staff were abducted, harassed, intimidated, hospitalized and in one case killed. Nevertheless, where we could not deploy to enable citizens to vote, the Commission took the decision to remobilize to such places to enable citizens to exercise their franchise,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said the commission could not extend the same to areas where voting was disrupted and election materials destroyed.
He continued: “We are keeping our eyes on those areas and would not hesitate to remobilize where the outcome of the election is affected.
“As Nigerians are aware, the 2023 General Election is approaching its concluding stages. Arising from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 25th February 2023, the Commission promised Nigerians that there will be improved processes during the Governorship and State Assembly elections held yesterday, Saturday 18th March 2023.”
In keeping with this promise, he said the commission had meetings with its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and service providers, and the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to review processes and procedures to ensure more optimal delivery of personnel and materials to various locations for the election to facilitate the opening of the polling units on time.
Consequently, he said majority of the polling units nationwide opened on schedule and citizens were attended to promptly.
Similarly, he stated that there was improved voter authentication using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) while the uploading of polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) witnessed a remarkable improvement.