ELECTIONS: WE'RE READY -INEC
Forty-eight hours to the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed its readiness for the exercise. The Commission also said the results would be released within 48 hours after voting has been concluded.
Making the revelation in Abuja yesterday, during an interactive session with newspaper editors and managers in the electronic media houses, INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said arrangements for the general elections had been concluded.
According to him, ahead of Saturday's election, the commission had made adequate arrangements for election materials and personnel to arrive the polling centres on time, for accreditation and voting as scheduled. He added that voting would start at 12.30am simultaneously across the country.
He revealed that the INEC had taken measures to ensure that election materials get to all parts of the country without hitches, emphasising that the commission would work with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Nigerian Air Force and Nigerians Navy in this regard.
'We are doing everything possible to ensure that election materials and personnel arrive in good time for voting to commence,' Jega said.
The INEC Chairman said the Airforce and the Navy would help INEC to get election materials and personnel to places with difficult terrain. In such areas, the Air Force would drop materials using helicopters, while the Navy would use speed boats. He revealed that the Air Force had located landing spots in areas that have been classified as difficult terrain.
Jega said that the FRSC personnel would join the convoy of vehicles carrying election materials and personnel, with vehicles that have tracking devise. According to him, with that the commission would track movement of election materials.
The INEC chairman said that with the tracking devise if election materials are diverted the commission would know instantly and take appropriate actions. He revealed that INEC has also taken measures to ensure that the elections are transparently conducted.
In this regard, he said that the commission has put security features on the ballot boxes, ballot papers and result sheets to frustrate manipulation.
The INEC boss said with the security features, if a ballot box is snatched and swapped, the commission would know. Also, if ballot papers are swapped or taken to areas they are not meant, the INEC would know. In the same vein, if result sheets are snatched and fraudulently exchanged, the commission would know.
Jega promised that the INEC would conduct credible elections, boasting that if the elections or their outcome is ever faulted, this would not be as a result of INEC's failure. He revealed that the Commission had already got an undertaking from its officials to be above board in discharging their duties during the elections, adding that his staffers are aware that any of them who gets involved in anything against the law would bear the consequences of such action.
'We have told our staff that anybody who what would compromise the process would face the consequences,' he said.
He clarified the use of soldiers during the elections, saying that only unarmed police personnel would be at pooling centres. He said that soldiers would be place on alert and would only be deployed if there is any reported case that is beyond the police to handle. He also said that soldiers would only conduct patrols in trouble spots and would not come to pooling units.
'There will be security at pooling units. There will also be patrols. The army will not be at pooling units. The army would be kept far from pooling units. If it becomes necessary that they should be invited to assist, this will be done,' Jega said.
On when results would be released, Jega said that the commission was committed to releasing election results within 48 hours after voting. He, however, added that in doing this, INEC would not compromise the verification of whatever result that would be announced.
He said: 'Results would be announced within 48 hours. However, the most important aspect of verification would not be compromised.'
The INEC chairman said that ballot papers have been printed and currently in the volt of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).