Ondo 2020: Smart Card Readers Lost to Fire Incident Have Been Replaced—INEC Chairman

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Says INEC is Ready For The Governorship Election

By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News

In response to the unfortunate fire incident last month in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lost all its Smart Card Readers in Ondo State, the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has disclosed that enough replacements have been moved from Oyo State and configured for the election on Saturday, October 10, 2020.

This is as he said, that INEC has made adequate arrangements with the Federal Fire Service to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.

The INEC Chairman who made these disclosures at a stakeholders’ meeting in Akure, Ondo State capital on Monday, noted that the Commission has continued to work with security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to ensure a hitch-free and secure election on 10th October.

He said, “I wish to specifically thank all the agencies in ICCES, especially the lead agency, the Nigeria Police, for their continued support and professionalism as we prepare for the election. In short, the Commission is ready for the election. I have spent the last two days here in Ondo State evaluating our preparations and I am pleased with what I have seen.

“Our commitment is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Ondo State is entirely in the hands of the voters”.

He assured all eligible voters that every vote will count and only the choice made by the people of Ondo State will determine the outcome of the election, and also assured political parties and candidates that INEC will remain focused on its processes and procedures.

“Let me reiterate to all stakeholders that the Commission will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate”, he said.

While speaking on areas of improvement from the just concluded Edo Election, he said that 16 areas of improvement have been identified and they include; logistics, prompt response to Smart Card Reader glitches on Election Day, the menace of vote buying during elections and compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

“In response, we have engaged with land and maritime transport owners for forward and reverse logistics to and from land and riverine locations. We have engaged additional 104 Registration Area Technical Support (RATECHS) staff to respond rapidly to issues with Card Readers on Election Day.

“We had useful discussions with the security agencies and anti-corruption agencies on how to deal with vote buying during elections. Working with health authorities, we will continue to enforce safety measures at polling units, including the compulsory wearing of face masks and the provision of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as hand sanitizers and infra-red thermometers at polling locations and collation centres”, Yakubu noted.

He appealed to all election officials, transport providers, polling agents, election observers and the media to ensure compliance with the advisory by health authorities, stressing that voting in safety is a critical component of elections in the era of COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, he emphasized that the Commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or be rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results.

“The people of Ondo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment”, he remarked.

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