The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says it does not want the controversies that surrounded past elections it conducted repeat it’self.
The electoral body is to oversee 28 remaining court-ordered elections this year after it conducted two in 2019.
INEC said it was instructed to conduct 30 new polls by various courts across the country.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who blamed politicians and various political parties, stated that for the remaining 28 court-ordered polls as well as the off-cycle Edo and Ondo governorship elections to be credible and peaceful, stiff sanctions against election riggers need to be constituted.
He listed things needed to make for credible polls as adequate security, sanctioning of election offenders, deployment of modern technology like the smart card readers, provision of electoral materials and logistics, and the INEC getting its Acts right.
The INEC boss said: “The Commission will continue to improve on our processes in spite of the extremely challenging environment created by the action and inaction of actors outside our control.
“The Commission is deeply concerned that elections in Nigeria, especially for executive positions, are increasingly characterised by brazen acts of impunity. The Commission plans for all elections to be successfully concluded and for the will of the people to prevail.
“It is inconceivable that INEC will make elaborate arrangements for the deployment of personnel and materials and then turn around to undermine ourselves in the field on Election Day. Impunity has become the bane of our elections. The best antidote to impunity is the enforcement of sanctions under our laws without fear and favour. Where offenders are not punished, bad behaviour is encouraged.
“The Commission will continue to work with the National Assembly and all stakeholders for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal recommended by the Uwais Committee on electoral reform (2008), the Lemu Committee on post-election violence (2011) and, most recently, the Ken Nnamani Committee on constitutional and electoral reform (2017).
He continued: “One critical area that the Commission will engage the National Assembly is the status of the Smart Card Reader (SCR). Let me reiterate that the SCR has come to stay. It cannot be jettisoned or abandoned. Rather, the Commission will seek ways by which its utility in elections can be enhanced for the triple objectives of verification of the genuineness of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), confirmation of ownership and fingerprint authentication of voters.
“The status of the SCR must be provided for and protected by law. Similarly, accreditation data from the SCR should be used to determine over-voting and the margin of lead principle. The judgement of the Supreme Court on the primacy of the voters’ register as the determinant of over-voting in law merely draws attention to the lacuna in the electoral legal framework which must be addressed through an immediate and appropriate amendment to the Electoral Act.
“The Commission will present a proposal to the National Assembly on this matter as well as other areas in which further deployment of technology will deepen the integrity of our electoral process.”
He further lamented how Attorneys Generals and Commissioners of Justice of various states were freeing electoral offenders, saiying it is inconceivable that INEC would go the whole hog to put in place electoral safeguards only to turn around and act in the breach.
Yakubu reiterated that the electoral umpire will never connive with any party to rig polls as alleged by political parties.
It could be recalled that the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP had after the November 16, 2019, Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections accused the electoral umpire of conniving with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC to rig elections in the ruling party’s favour.