To ensure the integrity of the rescheduled presidential and parliamentary elections, the electoral commission, INEC, has retrieved sensitive materials already distributed in most states of the federation.
The materials were distributed last week in preparation for the February 16 election. However, hours before the commencement of the elections, the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, announced a postponement.
Newsmen reported how Yakubu gave challenges of distribution of materials as the reason for the postponement. The presidential elections were thus postponed to February 23 while state elections were postponed to March 9 from March 2.
Yakubu said the postponement would afford the electoral body the opportunity to address the identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of Nigeria’s election.
Prominent civic groups like the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) raised concerns about the safety and integrity of the already distributed materials such as result sheets and card readers.
However, to ensure the materials do not fall into the wrong hands, INEC has withdrawn them from its various local government and offices for safe keeping. Some of the states where this withdrawal has occurred include Lagos, Anambra, Enugu, and Plateau.
The INEC in Lagos State on Sunday said it had retrieved all sensitive materials for the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier distributed to the 20 local government areas of the state.
INEC spokesman in Lagos State, Femi Akinbiyi, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that all sensitive materials had been retrieved and kept in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under security watch.
He said that the sensitive materials, which comprised ballot papers and result sheets, had been distributed at the three senatorial districts before they were later moved to the 20 LGAs.
Akinbiyi said that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police had monitored the exercise in some local governments.
“The instruction from the INEC headquarters was that all sensitive materials should be moved back to the CBN and the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State was in Ikeja today to supervise such movement.
“The movement across the state was done under tight security,” he said.
According to him, all card readers earlier deployed to each local government area have been returned to the INEC office in Yaba for reconfiguration.
The INEC spokesperson added that all ad-hoc staff had been paid their training allowances for the postponed elections.
The INEC in Anambra on Sunday said it has taken delivery of all the sensitive electoral materials earlier deployed for the February 16 presidential and National Assembly elections.
Leo Nkedife, INEC Head Voter Education and Publicity, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Awka that the action was necessitated to secure the materials.
The spokesman said that all ballot papers and result sheets have been recalled and deposited at the CBN Awka branch while the smart card readers were returned to INEC office for safe keeping.
The INEC in Plateau has retrieved all sensitive materials earlier distributed to the 17 local government areas of the state.
Osaretin Imahireogbo, Head, Voter Education and Publicity of the commission in the state, said this to the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Jos.
Imahireogbo said that the retrieval, which began on Saturday night, was concluded on Sunday morning, adding that all the materials had been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Jos, the State capital.
“With the change in the date of the general elections, we have retrieved all the sensitive materials that we earlier distributed to the 17 LGAs of Plateau.
“All the materials are intact and now kept in the custody of the CBN where it was collected and distributed to the LGAs,” he said.
The official said all card readers had also been retrieved and kept at the commission’s office.
In Enugu, Emeka Ononamadu, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC, said that all sensitive materials already distributed in the state were already being retrieved on Saturday night.
The official said the materials would be returned to the custody of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) branch in the state.
Ononamadu said this at a news conference on Saturday evening in Enugu.
“We have been directed to return all the sensitive materials to the CBN, Enugu.
“And the process is already on as I am briefing you now under heavy armed security to ensure that integrity of the materials will be ensured,” he said.