By Chidi Opara
Owerri – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will not use incident form in 2019 elections as the card reader will be effectively utilised.
Prof. Francis Ezeonu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo, said this at a Town Hall Meeting/Sensitisation Campaign of the commission on Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government area of Imo.
He said that the commission was upgrading the card reader machine to make it more functional and effective during elections.
He told the participants and politicians that the era of playing pranks with people’s permanent voter cards during elections was gone, adding that anyone with a card that the card reader did not recognise would be disfranchised and would not be given any incident form.
Ezeonu said that accreditation and voting would start simultaneously to avoid long queues and time wastage during elections.
He advised politicians and party faithful to ensure they did their home work well when campaigns commenced, adding that any plan to rig in whatever form would be a waste of time and effort.
“The essence of politics is development. Candidates should ensure they sincerely work towards getting the people’s mandate. Hijacking election materials will not work in 2019 elections,” he said.
Mrs Immanuela Ben-Opara, the Head of Voters Education in INEC, had earlier educated the stakeholders on the need for proper conduct during elections and for them to register to have their PVCs.
Some stakeholders during interaction, commended the Imo REC on its efforts to ensure free and fair elections.
They said that they were ready to work with INEC in the spirit of the current move to ensure credible elections and called on the commission to ensure it would abide by its assurances.
They also advised INEC not to change its trained ad-hoc staff with new and untrained ones during elections and to avoid being used by politicians to rig elections.
Mr Ebenezar Amadi, the Technical Committee Chairman in Ohaji-Egbema, commended INEC in Imo for what he called “an innovation”.
He said that the area was notorious for insecurity in the past, but normalcy had returned.
Mr Kingsley Uju, Imo Deputy Chief of Staff and an indigene of the area, also commended INEC on the sensitisation move.
He said that relative peace had returned to the hitherto crisis-prone area.
“I am happy INEC is beginning to do things in the right way by educating the people on their responsibility as voters for a free and fair election.
“With this move and its effective implementation, Nigerians will begin to believe and have confidence that INEC is ready to manage the electoral process well without intimidation.
“People are ready to work with INEC. I thank INEC for creating the opportunity to interface with the people in efficient electoral process. I, therefore, call on the stakeholders to give INEC adequate support, “Uju said.
Earlier, Mr Nwabueze Nwoke, the Electoral Officer in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government area, had said that the meeting afforded INEC and stakeholders a focal point to create the desired synergy needed to achieve maximum success “in this collective enterprise”.
He said that the commission in the LGA had been able to register 3,965 people since April 2017, saying the number of PVCs collected was 119, while 19,139 were yet to be collected.