The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has identified 299 flash-points among polling units in Ekiti ahead of the July 14 gubernatorial election in the state.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Abdulganiyu Raji, made this known at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room dialogue on Ekiti Governorship Election, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mr Raji said the commission was ready for the election and was working with security agencies to address the situation before the poll.
“We have identified 299 flashpoints polling units within the state and we are preparing for them, but before the election, some of the threat areas would have been addressed.
“We have submitted the necessary information to the Police Commissioner in the state and our National Commissioner has forwarded the information to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police for necessary action.
“Presently, our Election Risk Management Desk is working on flashpoints mapping to make it easier for stakeholders to read,” he said.
He appealed to the civil society organisations to join INEC to appeal to political parties and their members to stop hate speeches as well as rumour mongering which misinformed the people.
Mr Raji disclosed that administratively or logistically, the commission had no major challenge, saying “we are almost set for the election; we are just waiting for our sensitive materials’’.
He said INEC was already carrying out voter education with the use of short drama and dissemination of information in major languages, including indigenous (Ekiti) language.
This, according to him, has contributed a lot to sensitisation of the people.
The REC added that while no fewer than 10,032 personnel were needed to conduct the poll, the commission had more than 17,000 officials comprising students of higher institutions and former and serving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members.
He said the commission had commenced training of electoral officers and security officials and had also enhanced the performance of the card reader for optimum performance.
“We have also done ‘stress’ test on our card readers. At the end of the exercise, we realised that we have more than the number we required for the election.”
Mr Raji said that INEC was taking measures to ensure that no candidate or political party agent was allowed to buy votes or induce voters within the vicinity of voting centres.
The chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, assured that the commission would be neutral and ensure that the election was free and fair.
Mr Yakubu, represented by a National Commissioner in the commission, Solomon Soyebi, said there was machinery in place to ensure that engaged staff for the election adhered to INEC’s principles of neutrality and credibility.
“We are not going to be only neutral and impartial, we will ensure that the votes of Ekiti people count.”
He warned that any staff of the commission that erred in the election would be sanctioned according to the law.
Mr Yakubu added that the commission was putting in place modality to monitor hate speeches.
The Executive Director of PLAC and Convener of Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo, said the Ekiti poll would be a litmus test for INEC on its capacity to deliver free, fair election in 2019.
He said the election would be quite decisive in building or damaging the country’s electoral process, “but what we have seen in INEC today gives us a lot of hope of its credibility to deliver”.
Mr Nwankwo advised security agencies to be non-partisan, saying “we urge the security services and the police to restrict their duty to their professional callings.
“As we move to 2019, police are expected to take instruction from INEC. Their action must reflect professionalism. We urge the police to go back to the drawing board and understand the impartiality of its role in the political process.”
Abiodun Oyeleye of New Initiative advised INEC to work more with CSOs on voter education in Ekiti.
“The more INEC engages the CSOs, the more it gets to the people at the grassroots and the easier the work becomes,” he said.