Mahmood Yakubu, National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission said 18,511 electoral officials had been deployed to Edo ahead of the Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
Yakubu made the disclosure at a Stakeholders’ Forum on the election, organised by the commission in Benin on Wednesday.
He said that majority of the personnel were drawn from “the pool of young Nigerians on national assignment through the National Youths Service Corps Scheme”.
He added, “Their service, complemented by other patriotic Nigerians, is essential to the electoral process and our democracy.”
Yakubu assured of the commission’s continued neutrality in elections, saying that the Edo exercise would be free, fair and credible.
He disclosed that the electoral officials had been warned “to operate strictly within the confines of the law and our guidelines.
He said, “All election duty personnel have sworn to an oath of neutrality and fairness to the process, and any infraction will attract severe sanctions from the commission’’.
He appealed to political parties and their supporters to eschew violence and intimidation of electoral officials “and the desperate resort to ballot-snatching and falsification of results’’.
“It is unfortunate that already, one smart card reader was snatched at one of the training centres recently.
“It was a futile effort because the card reader had not been configured to any polling unit for the election. It was nevertheless a disturbing incident; security agencies are the trail of the snatchers.”
Yakubu also warned high profile personalities in the state to ensure that they complied with the law by avoiding acts of perambulation during the election.
According to him, like other ordinary citizens, they are expected to vote and then go home; if they must stay around, they must also maintain a reasonable distance from the polling centres.
He said, “Heads of the security agencies from our various inter-governmental agencies meetings have given their assurances that they will provide adequate security for the electorate, INEC and ad hoc staff and materials.
“No orderly may accompany these high profile personalities to the polling centres, but where they escort them, they are not expected to display their arms.”
The chairman appreciated the contributions of stakeholders to INEC’s preparations for the elections and reiterated the commission’s commitment to conducting a credible and conclusive governorship election.
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