2015: Forget ballot snatching, Jega tells politicians
From ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, Kaduna
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attairu Jega has warned politicians to rule out the possibility of snatching ballot boxes in the 2015 general elections, saying such will render votes of erring political parties invalid.
Jega gave the warning yesterday at the closing ceremony of a three-day retreat for Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and other management staff of the commission held in Kaduna.
According to him, the era of ballot box snatching had gone in the Nigerian electoral system. ?The new system of digitised electoral procedure has made it impossible for carrying ballot box from one polling station to another, because henceforth every polling booth will have a spe...ed digital number and all voting cards for that particular station will carry the digital number.
?When you register in booth ?A?, your registration number is one, everybody that registered there will carry number one, which means that polling unit is ?A1?. If your polling unit is ?B? you have ?B1/1-500?. If your voting card is registered under ?B? unit and it finds its way into ?A? unit box, that vote automatically becomes invalid.
?It pays for people contesting election to ensure that they play by the rules of the game, because when you snatch box from one polling unit to another, you stand the chance of losing the votes cast as they will all be declared invalid. With this new system and other initiatives put in place by the commission, 2015 will witness a hitch-free election, even though I cannot assure you of absolute perfection as we are learning day by day,? he said.
The INEC boss, however, expressed his commission?s readiness to be an unbiased umpire in the 2015 elections and ensure that everybody plays by the rules of the game.
He said the retreat was put in place as a means of deliberating and finding a way to correct the past mistakes the commission encountered during previous elections.
?We came together to brainstorm on problems encountered by the commission in previous elections and after three days? deliberation, we concluded that some of the major problems facing the commission include the delay in the supply of voting materials to polling units, competent personnel and security coverage for the staff,? he noted.
Jega, however, said the commission alone could not deliver the desired free and fair election without the collaboration of other agencies and stakeholders.
?We, in the commission, cannot solve this problem alone, we need the collaboration of other agencies like the security and the presidency to ensure that funds are made available at the right time for the right purpose,? the INEC boss stated.