By Ralph Madugu
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Plateau State, Dr. Oliver Tersoo Agundu, has said that the re-run election in Plateau North Senatorial District and the Jos-North/Bassa Federal House of Representatives scheduled for February 3, 2024 were not based on the failure of the Commission to do a good job.
Addressing a press conference in Jos, ahead of the February 3 re-run elections for Plateau North Senatorial District and Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Oliver Tersoo Agundu said, “The purpose of this meeting is to officially inform all of you about the Court Ordered Re-run Senatorial Election in Plateau North and the Federal House of Representative Election in Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency and to invite you all to once again to inform the general public about the election and the imperative of their active participation and orderly conducts so that we can have a peaceful election come 3rd of February, 2024.
“But let me be on record that this Court Ordered Re-run election is not based on the failure on the Part of INEC to do a good job in the first instance but strictly on the premise that a party in the contest failed to obey a court order and had no structure at the time of the election. But as of today, all of you in the media are aware of the position of the highest Court in our Country on the matter too.”
According to the REC, the February 3, re-run would be conducted in six (6) LGAs of Plateau North including Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Jos East, Jos North, Jos South and Riyom.
Dr. Agundu added that the 6 LGAs made up of 73 Registration Areas (RAs), 2,266 Polling Units (PUs) with a total of e1,234,761 Registered Voters out of which 1,167,001 have collected their PVCs.
He explained that the Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency is within the same Plateau North Senatorial District comprising of 2 LGAs of Jos North and Bassa with 30 Registration Areas and 1,209 Polling Units.
The REC gave 647,409 as the total Registered Voters, with a total PVC Collection of 614,956.
From the data above, the INEC REC stated that it was obvious that the February 3 re-run was a “huge exercise that is almost like a governorship election in some States” adding that the Commission were expected to recruit and deploy over 11,000 Ad-hoc personnel excluding the security personnel that would be deployed.
While appealing to stakeholders to understand the magnitude of the work at hand, the REC sued for collaboration from the media to develop modalities to ensure fair reportage of the Commission’s activities and to disseminate proper and timely information on the responsibilities of the electorates towards a transparent, fair and inclusive election.
While reassuring stakeholders on the Commission’s readiness to conduct the elections the REC said“For us as a Commission charged with the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections, I wish to inform you and once again assure all of you that despites very obvious challenges we are poised to proceed with this election as scheduled and eagerly anticipated by many in the affected constituencies.
“Like I did emphasize in the last General Election of 2023, the operational principles are still the same as well as the basic procedure and requirements.”
Dr. Agundu reiterated that only people with PVCs would be allowed to vote as according to him, accreditation must be with the use of Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) as stipulated in the Electoral Act.
He emphasized that security agencies have been charged to ensure compliance with this legal provision.
Said he: “For the purpose of clarity Section 47, sub-section 1 of the Electoral Act clearly states that “A person intending to Vote in an election shall present himself with his voter’s card to a “presiding Officer for accreditation at the polling Unit in the constituency in which his name is registered”.
“Like I did inform you last time the implication of the above provision is that only those with PVCs should come forward on Election Day to cast their votes. No one should insist to vote without PVC and anyone who fails accreditation by BVAS should respectfully give way for others because any attempt to bypass BVAS is likely to result into over voting in which case Section 51 of Electoral Act will apply
He also announced that almost all non-sensitive materials of different categories were already in the concerned Local Governments except very few shortfalls adding that the Commission was expecting full compliments from the Headquarters and would deploy same immediately to the 6 LGAs as they arrive.
“The Electoral Officers (EOs) have been directed to ensure full activation of the RACS at all the Six (6) LGAs of the Plateau North Senatorial except where expressly stated otherwise especially for Security Reasons. In terms of Sensitive Materials, they are likely to arrive the state any moment from next week and as usual we shall invite all of you for inspection at the Central Bank before deployment to the LGAs few days to the election.
He also disclosed that over 3000 BVAS machined were expected to be deployed for the re-run elections have been fully charged and were currently being purged of the previous data ready for configuration and subsequent deployment.
“I wish to report that we have planned to deploy BVAS to specific Polling Units, RAs/Wards and LGAs during election with the right quantity of the Back-up ready for any eventuality.
“Let me also reiterate the earlier information that I escalated from our Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu the last time we met before the General Elections precisely that elections are not going to hold in some Polling Units across the Nation for some reasons which resulted in zero Registration.
“I wish to inform you that Plateau North Senatorial District also have a share of such Units in Two (2) LGAs namely Bassa (1) and Jos North (3) totalling Four (4) Polling Units. Once again, all Political Parties, Security Agencies and other stakeholders should take note and act accordingly by not deploying agents or personnel in those places on the 3rd February, 2024.
“It is also pertinent to inform you that we are currently shortlisting the names of Ad-hoc for training, recruitment and deployment of Ad-Hoc Staff especially SPOS, POs and APOs. The training of RACTechs will soon be activated and the Commission will ensure that only qualified persons will eventually be shortlisted to participate in election.
“For the purposes of inclusivity INEC in line with the provisions of the Law has also given special consideration to People living with Disability and other vulnerable groups so that they too can have equal opportunity to participate in this forthcoming Re-Run Election. “I wish to reiterate the call that security personnel should at all times help to protect the Vulnerable so that they too can perform their duties as enshrined in our laws especially the Electoral Act.” He assured the people of INEC’s determination to once again conduct a free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections which he said, could only be possible in an atmosphere of peace which he acknowledged could be maintained and guaranteed by the security agencies and fair reportage by the media.