TEXT OF THE SECOND PRESS BRIEFING BY THE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROF. MAHMOOD YAKUBU, ON PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTION HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA, ON FRIDAY 24TH FEBRUARY 2023
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press
- I would like to welcome the Inspector General of Police to this briefing. As I said yesterday, I had the firm assurance of the IGP that he will join us today and he is here. No one else in Nigeria is in a better position to speak on internal security than the IGP. We appreciate your presence.
- Arising from the media briefing yesterday, some issues were raised to which the Commission promised to investigate and respond at this meeting. First is the availability of identification cards and vehicle stickers for accredited journalists in Lagos, Osun and Gombe States. I have confirmed from the three States that all the cards for journalists that applied through our portal have been received and either fully collected or available for collection. The only outstanding accreditation is for other media organisations, mainly online, that operate in towns and communities whose accreditation is handled by the Resident Electoral Commissioners after proper identification by the State Chairmen of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. I urge the media organisations in this category to liaise with our RECs immediately. On vehicle identification stickers, there is no special sticker for journalists. We have the general Election Duty stickers for all vehicles, including those used by observers and INEC officials. These are available in all our State offices and will be provided to all accredited journalists.
- The second issue is the unfortunate incident involving the candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu State. I can confirm that we have now received a formal communication from the party informing the Commission of the death of its candidate for Enugu East Senatorial District. The party also conveyed its intention to participate in the election for that constituency by replacing its deceased candidate. This request is in line with the provision of the law. For clarity, I wish to quote verbatim the provision of Section 34(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 as follows:
If, after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election within 14 days.
- The Labour Party has provided satisfactory evidence of the death of its candidate. Consequently, the Commission has suspended the election in the senatorial district as provided by Law. We have already communicated this decision to our Enugu State office. Therefore, there will be no senatorial election in Enugu East Senatorial District made up of six Local Government Areas, 77 Wards and 1,630 Polling Units. The election will now be combined with the Governorship and State Assembly elections holding in the next two weeks on 11th March 2023. Materials already delivered for the senatorial election will remain in the custody of the Central Bank in the State until the new date for election.
- We are glad about the progress we are making with the movement of materials to the various locations around the country. Having deployed these materials to the Local Government Areas, we are today devolving the deployment to the Registration Area Centers (RACs) so that early morning tomorrow the polls will open as planned. These RACs have been activated and election duty staff have started arriving in them.
- The Commission is aware of the situation in Imo State in the South Eastern part of the country where it was reported that some of the critical polling unit officials drawn from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have withdrawn their participation from some Local Government Areas as a result of the perennial insecurity. From the report we received from our State office, concerns have been expressed about the security situation in Osu Local Government Area, five Wards in Okigwe and six in Orlu. However, we have been assured that with enough mobilisation of security personnel to the area, it is possible for elections to hold in these locations. I have been in touch with the IGP who will brief us on their plans to secure these locations for elections to hold peacefully when he addresses us shortly.
- Generally speaking, the situation nationwide is calm as far as our preparations are concerned. There has been no incident involving the personnel or huge quantities of materials deployed by the Commission. Voter enthusiasm is high and so too is our determination to conduct credible elections.
- Tomorrow is Election Day. All campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertising by candidates for Presidential, Senatorial and Federal Constituencies for Presidential and National Assembly Elections ended at midnight yesterday.
- Voting begins at 8.30am and ends at 2.30pm tomorrow. However, any voter who is on the queue before 2.30pm will be allowed to vote even if voting goes beyond the official closing time. No voter will be disenfranchised.
- I wish all Nigerians a pleasant voting experience tomorrow. We have established a Situation Room here at the National Collation Centre. Our INEC Citizens’ Contact Centre (ICCC) is already up and running. Nigerians can contact us on our well published social media handles live and direct on Election Day.
- On this note, it is now my pleasure to invite the Inspector General of Police as head of the lead agency in internal security in Nigeria to address us and, thereafter, we will respond to your questions, comments and observations.
- I thank you very much.