The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the deployment of nine additional Residents Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to Imo in preparation for the upcoming governorship election on Saturday. The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this announcement during a stakeholders’ meeting held in Owerri on Monday.
This meeting was attended by governorship candidates, as well as chairmen, secretaries of political parties participating in the election, and representatives from Civil Society Organizations. Mr. Kenneth Ukeagu, a National Commissioner overseeing the South-East region, represented Yakubu. The newly deployed RECs were selected from Cross Rivers, Niger, Plateau, Bauchi, Oyo, Katsina, Gombe, and Yobe States. Additionally, the Administrative Secretary of the Commission in Ekiti was among those sent to provide supervisory support at the local government level.
In response to concerns raised by stakeholders, Yakubu assured that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) had not been compromised. He mentioned that BVAS had been configured and tested through mock accreditation in the state, and there would be no foreign figures in the BVAS at the polling units. He expressed confidence that BVAS would function effectively.
Yakubu also dispelled rumors that collation centers had been relocated from their designated sites to Local Government Headquarters. He further confirmed that non-sensitive materials had been transported to the commission’s offices in the 27 Local Government Areas of the state, and efforts had been made to ensure the timely distribution of election materials to polling units with the assistance of the National Union of Road Transport Workers.
Regarding the demands for the redeployment of the Imo REC, Prof. Sylvia Agu, Yakubu stated that any such transfer or removal would require evidence of the allegations against her. He emphasized that the commission would only take action if there was substantial evidence of wrongdoing.
Yakubu urged voters to turn out in large numbers to exercise their right to vote, assuring them that INEC was committed to making their votes count.
ACP Musa Abdullahi, speaking on behalf of the police, called on voters and residents to disregard calls for a lockdown by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra and assured them of the police’s commitment to defending and protecting lives and property to the best of their abilities.
The meeting initially became chaotic when the representative of the INEC chairman requested that journalists leave the venue. However, members of the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party objected and insisted that the media be allowed to cover the proceedings. Eventually, normalcy was restored when Mr. Ukeagu conceded to the pressure and permitted media presence at the meeting.