Guber polls: INEC warns officials against compromise in Edo, Ondo

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has vowed to sanction any official involved in corrupt and unethical practices during the September 21 and November 16 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.

The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, gave the warming during the annual Prof. Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture, organised by The Electoral Institute, TEI, on Monday.

Mr Yakubu, represented by the Chairman of the Board of the Electoral Institute, BEI, and INEC National Commissioner, Abdullahi Zuru, emphasised the need for election personnel to be knowledgeable, skilled, and equipped to handle the complexities of the electoral process.

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He also noted that effective training was crucial in fostering a high level of professionalism among election officials.

“To ensure the credibility and trustworthiness in our elections and build trust among the electorate, it is imperative that we prioritise the professional development of our election personnel. Consequently, the commission has always demanded that all election officials be punctual, courteous, polite, and helpful.

“Voters are the masters and should be treated equally, decently, and with the utmost respect. Unethical and corrupt practices by election officials will not be tolerated and shall incur severe punishments under the law,” Mr Yakubu said.

In his remarks, the director of the MacArthur Foundation and TEI board member, Kole Shettima, highlighted a comprehensive strategy to overhaul and improve various facets of the nation’s electoral process.

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He called for the integration of civic education into the training curriculum for election officials.

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Mr Shettima also advocated for the establishment of direct links with security personnel and fostering collective responsibility among stakeholders to protect electoral materials and personnel.

He also recommended that physical screening be conducted before ad-hoc staff are recruited and deployed, adding that this will provide a more robust check against the recruitment and deployment of unqualified personnel.

“It is advised to recruit in partnership with institutions instead of recruit as individuals. Ensure that recruited personnel possess the requisite educational qualifications. This will address challenges with a poor understanding of the electoral process and duties by ad-hoc staff.

“The pre- and post-screening test with a recommended pass rate should be administered to ensure that recruits for ad-hoc staff duty understand their duties and responsibilities adequately.

“Registration Area Centres should be opened early, and adequate security should be provided to protect sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials and staff. Registration Area Centres should be made habitable.

“Adequate facilities, including lighting, mattresses, convenience, etc., should be provided at RACs. Adequate provisions for logistics should be provided.

“This should include logistics considerations that address the needs of physically challenged pregnant women, new mothers, and senior citizens. We should put mechanisms for assessing the quality of training of the institute,” he added.

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