Some people were trying to sabotage the INEC’s effort to free and fair elections – Yakubu

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The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has cried out that some people were trying to sabotage the commission’s effort which resulted in the postponement of the general elections.

Yakubu said this on Saturday at the National Election Collation Centre located at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, while addressing stakeholders.

He said there were attempts to sabotage the commission’s effort with the fire incidents which ravaged its offices in different parts of the country.

He added that the worst case was in Awka, Anambra State, where over 4000 card readers were destroyed in a fire that gutted the facilities where they were stored.

He ruled out financial influence in the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled to hold today (Saturday) and the governorship, states assemblies and FCT Area Council election slated for March 2, 2019.

The new dates, as announced by the INEC boss, are now 23 February and 9 March this year respectively.

“The one-week adjustment was a painful one for INEC but necessary in the overall interest of our democracy. As Chairman of INEC, and on behalf of the commission, we take full responsibility for what happened and we regret any inconvenience our decision might have caused.

“In keeping with our promise to consolidate the gains of the last two electoral cycles, the Commission has conducted 195 rerun and off-season elections across the country since the last general elections. Most of these elections have been generally adjudged to show progressive improvements in planning, execution and outcomes,” Yakubu said.

He said that the commission, in preparing for the 2019 elections, had come face-to-face with the realities of conducting such an extensive national deployment of men and materials in a developing country like Nigeria.

He said the commission had been sued or joined in over 640 court cases arising from the nomination of candidates and that as at yesterday, there are 40 different court orders against the commission on whether to add or drop candidates.

“The net effect of these is that there is usually roughly a one-month window for the commission to print ballot papers and result sheets and either fly or transport them to several destinations until they finally get to each polling unit.

“Unfortunately, in the last one week, flights within the country have been adversely affected by bad weather. For instance, three days ago, we were unable to deliver materials to some locations due to bad weather,” the INEC chairman said.

He lamented that the most serious of all the challenges was the fire incident in their Anambra State Office at Awka, which destroyed over 4,600 Smart Card Readers (SCRs) being prepared for the elections.

He said the Card Readers take at least six months to procure and that despite the setback, the commission had practically recovered from this by mopping up every available spare SCR across the country and within 24 hours delivered them for elections to hold in Anambra State.

“Faced with these challenges, we initially thought that we only require a maximum of 24 hours to resolve the logistics issues involved and complete our deployment for the election. This would mean shifting the elections to commence on Sunday 17th February 20l9. However, given the restriction of movement during elections, that could affect many votes who worship on Sundays,” he added.

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