By George Odok
Calabar – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday said it would deploy 700 ad hoc staff to 117 polling units in the Obudu Constituency bye election scheduled for Aug. 11 in Cross River.
Dr Frankland Briyai, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, disclosed this during interactive session with executives of the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) at the INEC secretariat in Calabar.
Briyai said that INEC had concluded arrangements so as to give all parties the opportunity to win, adding that accreditation would start at 10 a.m, while voting would end at noon.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Obudu State Constituency in the House of Assembly became vacant following the death of the lawmaker, Mr Stephen Ukpukpen, on May 30.
The REC explained that adequate arrangements had been made to ensure peaceful and transparent process.
He added that security men from the Police, Navy, Army and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps would be on ground to ensure orderliness.
He said “all necessary arrangements, including election materials, have been sorted out. INEC is ready to conduct peaceful and credible election on Aug. 11.
“Each polling unit will be protected by eight security personnel, where 74,363 eligible voters are expected to cast their votes across the political wards in Obudu.
“We will have two card readers in each polling unit and a technical support team in case any of the card readers malfunctions.
“Our card readers have been enhanced; the case of 2015 where some of the readers had issues will not be experienced again.”
He gave the assurance that INEC would be fair and transparent in reading the result to all parties at each polling unit.
He added that pregnant women, the elderly, disabled and the blind would be given the opportunity to cast their votes before others.
Mr Sunday Michael, the IPAC Chairman in the state, said that the circumstance that led to the conduct of the bye election was pathetic.
Michael urged supporters of political parties to shun violence before, during and after the poll, saying “I call on the people of Obudu to use their Permanent Voter Cards to elect the candidate of their choice in a peaceful manner.
“Security agencies and INEC have assured us of adequate safety and I am confident that the process would be free and fair.”
Four candidates are contesting in the election namely: Agwupuye Umeka of African Democratic Party, Ishamali Bendel of All Progressives Congress, Awafang Angiating of Mega Party of Nigeria and wife of the deceased, Abbey Ukpukpe of Peoples Democratic Party.