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Polling Unit in Chad: PDP putting the lives of our staff at risk – INEC

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The Nigeria Election organizer, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied the allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP that it is working with the All Progressives Congress, APC to rig the 2019 General election.

Professor Mahmood Yakubu - INEC Chairman
Professor Mahmood Yakubu – INEC Chairman

The Commission Chief Press Secretary, Prof Mahmood Yakubu told Vanguard Newspaper on Saturday that the allegation amounts to some form of hate speech against the Commission.

The PDP had alleged that INEC has concluded plans to open additional 30,000 polling units in the border for Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) in Chad and Niger Republic in order to get the President, Muhamamadu Buhari re-elected

In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party had alleged that Buhari had instructed INEC to place polling units at strategic locations in the Northern States for the purpose.

“It is instructive to inform Nigerians that, as part of the presidency’s rigging plot, INEC has been instructed to deploy defective Smart Card Readers to IDP camps, particularly in some strategic northern states, to pave way for direct manipulations, including alteration of voter register and voting by unregistered persons, particularly, with the foreclosure of incident forms for manual accreditation.

“This grand plot to rig is the essential reason President Muhammadu Buhari has deliberately refused to sign the amendments to the Electoral Act, which among other things checked manual manipulation by insisting on the use of card readers for biometric accreditation of voters and elimination of over-voting.

Reacting, Prof. Mahmood expressed worry that the PDP allegation could place its staff at risk, describing the allegation as absolute falsehood.

His words: “I find it distasteful that Mr Kola Ologbondiyan can deliberately embark on peddling complete falsehood about the Independent National Electoral Commission in this manner, with the sole intent of discrediting all the good efforts being put in place to ensure credible 2019 General Elections.

“The story about the possibility of so called Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) located in Chad and Niger republic voting in the 2019 general elections was as a result of a misrepresentation of facts by a newspaper in its story on the Validation Conference in respect of the Framework for Voting for Internally Displaced Persons, held on12th December in Abuja, for which the Commission had to promptly issue a rebuttal.

“Everybody knows that displaced persons living in foreign countries cannot be regarded as IDPs but refugees and there is no provision in our laws for any Nigerian living outside Nigeria to vote during the 2019 general elections.

“But Kola Ologbondiyan has continued to insist that the Commission is planning to establish 30,000 polling units and give the so-called IDPs in foreign countries the opportunity to vote in the general elections.

“What this man is doing, by implication, is to put the lives of INEC permanent and adhoc staff, especially the young National Youth Service Corps members at risk during the 2019 general elections with his continuous portrayal of the Commission as untrustworthy and fraudulent.

“This is not what Nigerians need at this time. This is certainly not the way to be an excellent spokesperson.

“INEC is not a political party. The Commission is not planning to establish any new polling units anywhere. Our only interest is to conduct free, fair and credible general elections in 2019 and we require the cooperation of all stakeholders, including political parties, to achieve this objective.

“My strong advice to Kola Ologbodiyan is that he should stop what I can safely describe as hate speech against INEC, for the good of the country and democracy”, he stated.

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