The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ruled out any postponement of Saturday’s Kogi West Senatorial supplementary poll.
Mr Rotimi L. Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Thursday in Abuja said that there were no reasons why the November 16 elections should be cancelled or the Saturday’s re-run postponed.
When asked on the twin-petition of Senator Dino Melaye, Oyekanmi said the commission is a product of the law and as a law-abiding organisation would continue to operate within the ambit of the law, saying Melaye’s petition cannot be a reason to postpone the elections.
“There are provisions in the Electoral Act as amended on the basis upon which elections may be postponed. Individual petitions cannot replace the provisions of the law, including the section 26 of the Electoral Act,” he said.
The commission had last week fixed November 30 for the conduct of the supplementary and re-run elections after Melaye’s protests at the headquarters of the commission, where he demanded the cancellation of the election and submitted document and video evidences supporting his demand.
Meanwhile, INEC said it will continue to use and deploy the Smart Card Reader (SCR) in all elections including Saturday’s supplementary elections in the Kogi West Senatorial District, the Ajaokuta Federal Constituency and Sabuwa State Constituency elections.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Mr Festus Okoye, said this on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the clarification became necessary due to remarks attributed to him at a programme in Abuja, which gave the impression that the SCR are no longer useful in the electoral process.
“To the contrary, the National Commissioner spoke in the context of attempts by some political interests to willfully by-pass the Smart Card Reader during elections to inflate their votes.
They do this against the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision that the SCR is not to be used exclusively to determine over-voting.
“However, the Commission introduced the SCR in the electoral process principally as additional confirmatory and authentication tool to determine the authenticity of cards presented by voters and eliminate impersonation, which are serious challenges to the electoral process in Nigeria.
The SCR is therefore designed to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process and eliminate multiple voting,” Okoye said.
He said INEC will continue to work with the National Assembly and all the critical stakeholders to reduce malpractices in the electoral process, including over-voting.
He noted that as part of this process, strengthening the legal basis of the use of the SCR, and other amendments that will advance the electoral process would be vigorously pursued.