Ahead of Saturday’s Benue South senatorial election, the Independent National Electoral Commission has assured of its readiness to conduct a credible poll.
The electoral body also said electronic accreditation with permanent voter cards and card reader machines would be used for the election despite recent Supreme Court’s verdicts against the machines.
The court had this week explained that it upheld the governorship elections in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia States because the use of card readers for accreditation for those polls, was illegal.
The Benue election, a straight fight between former Senate President, David Mark of the Peoples Democratic Party and former students’ leader, Daniel Onjeh, who is contesting on the platform of All Progressives Congress, is a rerun following the annulment of the March 28, 2015 election by the Court of Appeal.
INEC had declared Mr. Mark winner before the cancellation.
Speaking on Friday in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Istifanus Dafwang, said INEC was very prepared for the election.
“We are very prepared,” he said. “Ballot papers and result sheets which are sensitive materials came in on Tuesday.
“We moved them to Oturkpo which is the zonal headquarters for Benue South on Thursday.”
Across the nine local government areas which comprises Benue South, there are 546,054 registered voters, Mr. Dafwang disclosed.
He further explained that INEC usually provides ballot papers equivalent to the total number of registered voters plus extra five per cent.
“Therefore, we have about 600, 000 ballot papers,” he said.
He said the sensitive materials had been distributed to the nine Electoral Officers, for distribution to the Supervisory Presiding Officers, SPOs.
The SPOs, who are in charge of wards will distribute the materials to Presiding Officers who will take the materials to the polling units, he explained.
Further to the goal of ensuring the credibility of the election, he said INEC would use its staff as SPOs, different from previous practice.
“This way, it will be easy to control and pin them down if they are our staff,” he said.
Also, he said all EOs were changed “last minute” so that those that had been in place for long would not be compromised.
Security Of The Election
While assuring electoral officers and voters of security, he disclosed that the Commissioner of Police for Benue State, had deployed 6,000 officers for the election.
Each polling unit will have three security details, and 10 armoured tanks with fully armed soldiers will be deployed at the collation centre, he disclosed.
Following report of Fulani cattle herders’ menace in Agatu Local Government Area, he stressed that election would only take place in places declared as safe by the police and SSS.