INEC To Print Materials For Rerun Ahead 2023

Sensitive materials to be in CBN except BVAS The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that in addition to the required number of…

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that in addition to the required number of ballot papers for presidential and gubernatorial elections next year, it will print an equal number to be used for a rerun in the event the need arises.

The INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Friday in Abuja at a roundtable with journalists.

He also said all sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections would be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

Yakubu, represented by the national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, reiterated that less than 100 days to the 2023 polls, the commission is irrevocably committed to the use of BVAS for the elections.

There were concerns over an alleged plan by INEC to find an alternative to its traditional system of keeping sensitive materials in the CBN after the governor of the apex bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele, joined the race for the 2023 presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Okoye said that INEC would print a total of 187million ballot papers for the 2023 presidential elections.

He said 93.5m ballot papers would be used on February 25, 2023 for the presidential election and the remaining 93.5m ballot papers would be for runoff of the presidential election in the case where there is no clear winner after 25 February.

“The same would be applicable to states. The commission decided to print 187m ballot papers for the presidential elections as it will be difficult to engage printers at a short notice, as well as the issue of logistics.”

He quoted section 134, subsection 2 of the Electoral Act, which states that a runoff is for the candidate with the highest number of votes and the candidate that has a majority of votes in the highest number of states.

He also said preliminary registered voters in Nigeria now stood at 93.5m, noting that 9,518,188 new voters were added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters.

“As at today, 18 political parties will participate in the 2023 general elections, and the law has outlined how candidates will emerge and how a presidential candidate will emerge in Nigeria.

“In case a candidate does not emerge from the first ballot, the commission prints ballots for runoff elections (second election) when we are printing ballots for the main elections. In other words, if 93m Nigerians are on the ballot for the presidential election, we will print 93m ballots for the first election and at the same time, print 93m ballots for runoff election in case a winner does not emerge from the first ballot.

“If at the end of the day there is no runoff, when election petitions are disposed of, the commission will destroy the 93m ballots printed for the run off.

“This is because the law gives the commission just 21 days to engage in reverse logistics and conduct a runoff election in case there is no winner,” he stated.

He added that as at the time of the conduct of the presidential election, the governorship and state assembly elections would still be pending.

He also stated, “For the governorship election, the commission will print at least runoff ballots for four governorship elections in case we have challenges in terms of a winner not emerging in the first ballot in some of the states.”

Explaining how a president would emerge and the conditions that may necessitate a second election, Okoye stated, “Section 134 (2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is the fundamental law of the land, makes it mandatory that before anyone can be deemed to have been elected as president, that candidate must secure the highest number of votes cast at the election and must also secure a quarter of the votes cast in two-third of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

“If no candidate secures this highest number of votes and the mandatory threshold, the constitution, we must have a second election within a period of 21 days.

“Not all candidates are going to participate in this second election; 18 will be on the ballot for the first election. If no candidate emerges from the first ballot, only two candidates will contest in the second election.

“The constitution has made it very clear that two candidates will be on the ballot, including one who scored the highest number of votes at the election. The second candidate that will be on the ballot will be one amongst the remaining candidates who has a majority of votes in the highest number of states. The constitution did not state that the one who came second will be in the second election.”

Custody of the BVAS

On the custody of the BVAS, Okoye stated, “We have classified the BVAS as a sensitive material and we have engaged with different security agencies to provide security for the BVAS because it will be in the custody of the commission.

“So we have adopted a hybrid approach as the BVAS will remain with the commission while the ballot papers will be in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“This was the agreement we had with political parties, security agencies, civil society organisations and the media.”

Collection of PVCs

On the collection of permanent voters cards (PVCs), the INEC boss said the commission had worked out, approved and adopted the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

He said INEC would, in the next few weeks, outline the details of the SOP for the seamless collection of the PVCs by all eligible registrants.

He said, “We assure all Nigerians that the PVCs of those that registered between January 15 and July 31, 2022 will be ready this month (November). The chairman will give the exact date for collection.

“All those that registered within this period, as well as all those that carried out transfer and those that applied for replacement will get their cards. Nigerians will have sufficient time for PVC collection.

“No Nigerian that validly and genuinely registered will be denied the opportunity to collect his or her PVC. We plead that Nigerians should not wait till the 11th hour before approaching our local government offices and the wards for PVC collection.”

No going back on BVAS

Okoye also said the use of the Bimodal Voter Verification System (BVAS) for 2023 polls is mandatory. He added that the use of the BVAS and INEC results Viewing Portal (IREV) were legal requirements, and the commission was irrevocably committed to their use in the 2023 general elections.

He said section 47(2) of the Electoral Act made the use of other technological devices mandatory, as may be prescribed by the commission for the accreditation of voters to verify, confirm or authenticate the particulars of an intending voter.

He added that transmission was also mandatory as provided in section 64(4) of the Electoral Act.

He assured Nigerians that INEC was working hard to deliver a free, fair, acceptable and inclusive elections in 2023.

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