We’re ready for Saturday’s elections – INEC chairman

INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said the commission was now poised to deliver credible polls on February 23 after postponing last Saturday’s election because of logistics issues.

He allayed fears that the electoral umpire was being pressured to compromise the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections.

He also disclosed that announcement of the result of the 2019 presidential election would follow the 2015 pattern, indicating that result would be announced on Tuesday, February 26.

The INEC boss, who fielded questions in Abuja on Wednesday, during INEC’s daily briefings ahead of Saturday’s election, also lauded the scathing attacks directed at it by the two leading political parties, APC and PDP, saying the accusations indicated that INEC was doing the right thing.

He said the commission would have been concerned if the attack was coming from one of the political parties, noting that accusations like the ones being spewed by the political parties were common in election.

He promised, however, to be fair to all parties in the polls, and said the votes of Nigerians would count.

“Let me repeat that now we have more presidential candidates than 2015. We have more registered voters than we had in 2015.

“The size of the result sheet is bigger than we had in 2015, but we are committed to concluding the process for the presidential roughly around the same time that we concluded the last general election.

“I understand that there is greater urgency but keenly following the extension and particularly for those who are covering the commission that they don’t extend their stay more than is expected for the outcome of the election.

“Although whatever we can to speedily conclude the election, consistent with the provisions of the law, we won’t sacrifice due process on the altar of speed.

“But, we will make sure we balance speed and what we are supposed to do under the law,” he stated.

He maintained that INEC’s ICT facilities could not be hacked since, he said, the system was offline.

“I want to assure you that much of our ICT facilities are offline. And, it is almost impossible to attack something that is offline.

“You can only attack something that is online. So much of it is actually offline. But, I have taken note of what you have said and we will continue to strengthen security around the ICT.

“But, at the moment, we have no panic about any possibility of attack on the facility or compromise our ICT facilities,” he assured.

On information making the rounds that the Rivers State APC had written INEC, insisting on its right to field candidates in the 2019 general election, the INEC chairman said the matter had been determined, and that Nigeria was a country built on laws.

He maintained that the Supreme Court, the nation’s apex court, has sealed the fate of the ruling party on the matter.

He declared that as election managers founded on law, it must abide by the decision of the Supreme Court.

“I think the Supreme Court has a number of pronouncements on that matter. And, for that reason, the commission has taken the position made by the judgment of the Supreme Court.

“Under our constitution, the Supreme Court is the last court of resort for any citizen.

“There must be an end to litigations, as lawyers say. And, once a Supreme Court makes a pronouncement, all essence of authority in the paper are bound to obey the judgment of the Supreme Court.

“And the commission, as a law abiding institution, is bound by the judgment. That is my answer to the question, and there is nowhere else to go.

“We will go by the judgments of all the courts but once it gets to the apex court, that is the end to the litigation.”

With that explanation, the commission put paid to the fate of APC and its candidates in Rivers State.

Earlier, while giving update on preparations ahead of Saturday’s rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections, the INEC boss said it had achieved 100% reconfiguration of the smart card readers.

He also said that stakeholders in the states had commenced verification of INEC materials in the custody of the central bank in various states of the country.

He said deployment of election materials from state capitals and the 774 LGAs had commenced and would be concluded today, Thursday, in all the states.

According to him, special arrangements had been made with the navy, marine police, and other security agencies for the escort of INEC staff and election materials to the five riverine LGAs in Bayelsa as well as other riverine areas in Ondo, Delta, and Edo states.

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