The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has appealed to voters to be peaceful and orderly before, during and after today’s elections, as the Police, working with other security agencies, have assured of adequate security for voters, electoral officials, observers and journalists.
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, who spoke at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, said voting would be by Continuous Accreditation and Voting System (CAVS) procedure and a voter would only be allowed to vote if his/her name is on the Register of Voters and after the verification of the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) and authentication of his/her biometrics by the Smart Card Reader (SCR).
He said other stringent measures are in place to combat the menace of vote-buying and other sundry electoral malfeasance, saying the Commission, with the support of the security agencies, was determined to extirpate the scourge from the electoral process by prosecuting anyone arrested.
Under-aged voters will be apprehended
Yakubu also warned under-aged voters to stay away from the elections, warning that anyone less than 18 years old caught standing to be accredited or voting would be arrested.
He stressed: “Under-aged voting is illegality, because there is a statutory age for eligibility for registration as a voter. If on election day, you find anyone that is apparently under-aged, or conclusively so, kindly report this to any official of the commission or the security agencies.
“Working with the Inspector General of Police, any under-aged person caught trying to be accredited or voting on the election day will be arrested. Voting is only open to Nigerian citizens above the statutory age of 18 (years).
“Let me use this opportunity to warn those who may want to sponsor under-aged persons to vote on election day that they will be arrested.”
According to him: “The sorting and counting of ballots will take place at each polling unit, while the first stage of the collation process takes place at the Registration Areas.
“From there, collation and declaration will take place at designated Local Government Areas result collation and declaration centres for Federal Constituencies and Senatorial Districts, while the final collation and declaration of Presidential election results will be done at the National Collation centre in Abuja.”
He disclosed that the commission had engaged 825,543 ad hoc staff ranging from Presiding Officers to Collation and Returning Officers for today’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Also, about 80,000 commercial vehicles and about 996 boats were deployed with personnel and materials, including 707,892 ballot boxes and voting cubicles, to various land and riverine locations, adding that the commission also accredited 120 domestic and 36 international organisations, deploying a cumulative total of over 73,000 observers.
Police will be fully on ground to provide maximum security
On his part, the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, reiterated that maximum security would be provided before, during and after the elections, as security personnel at the polling units would not be armed and there would be no need for apprehension while the election is going on.
He said: “We have some group of people who might want to disrupt the election; we have put in place strategy to stop that. We have tactical units of our personnel and other services that will be patrolling everywhere to ensure that the process is not disrupted.
“The patrolling personnel will be armed and will deal with anybody who wants to disrupt the process in the course of the election,
“If any electoral offence is committed, we will work with the INEC officials to apprehend the culprit and set up investigative team, headed by the Commissioner of Police in charge of Legal Unit, to investigate the cases and prosecute them.
“Be it vote-buying, ballot box snatching, be it thuggery, if you commit that, you will be arrested and prosecuted. After the voting, movement of electoral materials to the collation centre will be protected. Armed security personnel will be posted to the ward collation centres.”
“Even when the results are announced, those people who are planning to disrupt the process, we have put strategies in place to prevent that.”
Adamu stated that what was required from all Nigerians was to go out peacefully, cast their vote and wait for the announcement of the results, adding: “If you have no business on the election day, if you are not an accredited official, please don’t come out.
“All the accredited officials, whether domestic or foreign observers, must carry their tags. You can move freely and be protected. If you identify anybody that wants to infiltrate you and claim to be an observer for a group, we will appreciate you exposing such a person for us to remove him or her from your group.”