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INEC UNFOLDS FRESH GUIDELINES FOR DELTA RE-RUN POLLS

By NBF News
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THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as part of the guidelines unfolded for the Delta State governorship re-run election scheduled for January 6, 2011, has fixed the accreditation of registered voters for 9.00 a.m. and ends at 12.00 p.m.

According to the new guidelines by the commission's Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, only voters waiting in the queue at the various polling units as at 12 noon shall be accredited, warning that any voter coming after noon shall not be accredited.

A statement by INEC Director of Public Affairs, Emmanuel Iyorwuse Umenger quoted the commission's boss as saying, however, that permanent voter's card or temporary voter's card only shall be acceptable for accreditation and voting.

The guidelines explained that once accredited and voters had queued up, they would be counted and their number loudly announced to the hearing of all the persons present at the polling units by the Presiding Officer.

These measures, the commission's boss said, have been put in place, to ensure free, fair and transparent process.

Also, where the total number of votes cast for the candidate exceeds the total number of people accredited to vote at the polling unit, after thorough verification, such a result shall be nullified.

The new guidelines directed that: 'Where the result is nullified, endorse form EC8A for the Polling Unit as follows: 'Result Cancelled.' Immediately announce the nullification of the result to those present.'

The Commission charged the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Delta State to consider the governorship re-run election as 'a very important national assignment, which calls for seriousness of purpose, honesty and integrity.'

Jega asked the REC to act his part well and ensure a free, fair and credible election on January 6.

And against the backdrop of allegations of shoddy preparations by INEC and protests by some political parties over the non-display of voters register the REC, Dr. Gabriel Ada, at the weekend reiterated that the re-run governorship election will hold come next Thursday, January 6.

Ada told reporters in Asaba that polls would not hold in the small towns of Koko, headquarters of Warri North Local Council and Obiaruku, Ukwuani Local Council as a result of the violence during the ill-fated April 14, 2007 election.

He denied that the Commission has been restrained by a court from conducting the election, adding that the current legal tangle is between the feuding parties in the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN) which fielded Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege in the re-run election in place of the deceased candidate, Olorogun Oguro-Olotu Felix Azorbo, instead of the running mate in 2007.

While the People's Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan hails from Warri North Council, the mother of his main opponent, Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic People's Party (DPP) is from Obiaruku.

He disclosed that over 1.5 million people will vote in the election at the 3,625 polling units and 270 registration areas spread across the 25 local councils.     During the bedlam which characterised the 2007 election, which was annulled by an appellate court last November 9, INEC offices were burnt while materials were destroyed and all the vital documents which would have aided the Commission to conduct the election were destroyed and are yet to be replaced.

Ada said: 'The crisis consumed the voters' registers, the computers, other software, the buildings and others were all burnt. Even if you come with your voters register how do we identify you. But the fact is that even if election does not take place in such places it will not affect the result of the election.'

The REC said nobody can threaten the Commission to display voters register, insisting that the constitution and electoral law has not been so strict on that but however promised to give the political parties sub copies of the register for the sake of transparency.

Ada warned political office holders and the likes against the use of security escorts that day as anybody seen in such habit, no matter his status will be arrested with the security men just as he revealed that movement will be restricted from 9 a.m. when accreditation will start and ends 3.00 p.m. after the election.

Meanwhile, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Delta State chapter which cannot technically field any candidate in the re-run, has endorsed Uduaghan.

The ACN equally criticised its former governorship flag-bearer Chief Omo-Agege who recently decamped to the RPN so that he could contest in the re-run election.

'In view of the prevailing circumstance in which the ACN is not eligible to present a governorship candidate for the re-run election, we hereby endorse Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate for the re-run election coming up on the 6th of January, 2011,' the ACN Delta State chairman, Dr. Mike Emuh said.