- To make underage voters probe report public
- Voters register on website
The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) is awaiting communication on the existing vacancies in the National Assembly to enable the agency to conduct by-elections, INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this in Lagos at the weekend.
He said INEC is compelled by law to conduct by-election within 90 days after a vacancy is declared. Only Presiding officers of the National Assembly or a State House of Assembly can declare any seat vacant, he added.
“We have no any power to declare the seat of any lawmaker vacant.
“We cannot declare vacancy and conduct by-election unless there is a formal communication from the presiding officers of that Assembly.
“So this is not a matter under the control of the commission.’’
Two senate seats are vacant by virtue of death – Katsina North and Bauchi South.
Seanor Ali Wakili (Bauchi South) and Mustapha Bukar (Katsina North) died in March and May.
Also last month, Senator Joshua Dariye was jailed for corruption.
However, the semate leadership is yet to formally notify INEC of the development.
Yakubu also said the agency had posted the voters register on its website for people to confirm their status.
He also said the report of its panel that investigated the allegation of underage voting during the Kano State local government election, would be made public.
Yakubu said the commission had slightly redesigned its voter register to take care of incidents where the smart card readers could not read the fingerprints of the owner.
“I want to assure you that we will continue to do whatever we can to improve the voter register as we approach 2019 general elections.’’
Prof. Yakubu added that one of the innovations INEC had brought into the registration process was that registered voters could now check the status of their registration online.
“INEC committee conducted investigation, submitted its report and we addressed the press on the matter that there was no connection between INEC voter register and the incidents of underage voting in Kano.
“In fact in many voting units they did not even use voter register to accredit anyone.
“Having said so, there is a demand that we should release the report of our investigation. I assure you we will soon release the full report of that investigation.’’
On the challenge of insecurity and registration of voters, Yakubu said despite the security situation the commission had high number of register voters in some states with security challenge including Benue and Borno.
He said that was possible as it was easier to register people in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps than to register people who go individually to various registration units.
“Most interesting for me is that Benue has also recorded one of the highest numbers of registrants in the on-going CVR.
“What I find most reassuring in Benue is that in spite of the security challenge people are still interesting in voting.’’
Prof. Yakubu said a new design of voter register with a provision for a column to take care of cases where the smart card reads could not read finger prints of the owner would be deployed for the election.
This according the Yakubu would speed up the voting process, compared to old system where people have to queue to fill a form, thereby delaying the process.
The chairman pledged that he would do whatever it takes to improve on the electoral process of the country to protect his name and reputation.
“If there is anything I am going to leave INEC with is my reputation as academic. I am going back to my academic profession where I came from.
“So, whatever it takes to earn a good name for this country, for myself and my family I will do so.
“The only thing we have is our values and we work very hard to ensure that we leave with our values intact.’’