The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will deliver all the sensitive materials meant for the Ekiti State Governorship election directly to its office in Ado-Ekiti.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Saturday while speaking at a symposium tagged “The Electorate: A Conversation on Elections in Nigeria”, organized at the Shehu Musa Yar Adua Centre, Abuja.
The chairman was asked about the warehousing of election materials with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in view of the controversy surrounding the political interest of the bank’s Chairman, Godwin Emefiele, in the 2023 presidential election.
The decision goes against the usual practise by the commission where its sensitive election materials are usually kept with CBN for onward distribution to its state and local government offices a few days before elections.
Yakubu acknowledged the concerns raised by citizens relating to the issue, considering the sensitive nature of election materials and the need for trust and confidence in the electoral process.
He said that in respect of the Ekiti Governorship election on the June 18, INEC would deliver all the sensitive materials meant for the election directly to its office in Ado-Ekiti and distributed to the 16 Local Government Areas of the state.
He stated further that the Commission was looking at the same situation with regard to the Osun Governorship election holding on June 16.
“We are not going to use CBN for Ekiti elections. The materials will be moved from our headquarters in Abuja to airport then to our state office,” Yakubu said.
Yakubu commended the handling of materials by CBN since the collaboration started, saying there has not been a single incident of failure in that regard.
He, however, said that the direct delivery of the sensitive materials to Ekiti and Osun were interim measures, pending further discussions with the CBN ahead of the 2023 General Elections.
“We are experimenting with better ways in which we can secure the processes, so not necessarily related to what is happening in the Central Bank. Our intention is to always improve and take complete ownership of the process,” he said.
On printing of ballot papers abroad, Yakubu assured that the 430 million ballot papers to be used in the 2023 election would be printed in Nigeria.
He said the preference of the commission had always been to print the sensitive materials within the country.
“Conducting elections in Nigeria is like conducting election in the whole of West Africa.
“Sometimes, because of the shortness of time between completion of primaries and nomination of candidates for elections, for obvious reasons the commission had to print some sensitive materials outside the country, not all.
“This time around, we have time and we would be able to patronise our local printers.
“In all the off-season and by-elections we have conducted, we have not printed any sensitive materials outside the country. Now that we have time, we will patronise the printers locally.”
The INEC chairman also disclosed that the commission had responded to the demands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by furnishing the agency with the bank accounts and other financial details of political parties.
The EFCC had launched a discreet investigation into the finances of the 18 political parties in the country and their presidential aspirants, following the humongous fees paid for expression of interest and nomination forms by aspirants vying for various elective offices in the parties.
“The commission has responded. We wrote already to the EFCC. They asked for information and we are duty bound to provide that information and we did so”, Yakubu said.
He, however, said that INEC was yet to audit the campaign finances of parties since 2018.
He said the law provides the electoral umpire to publish in a number of dailies and submit the report to the National Assembly.
“We haven’t audited the campaign finances of parties since 2018 because that year was an election year.
Immediately after the 2019 elections, we decided to audit the accounts then COVID-19 set in.
“However, we have engaged firms to audit the accounts and very soon we would publish the report”.