By Tony Akowe
Lokoja (Precise Post) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured residents of Kogi state of conducting a hitch free governorship election across the state on Saturday despite palpable tension and apprehension.
The Commission asked the people of Kogi state to come out en masse to cast their votes on Saturday, saying there can only be violence when a few people vote.
National Commissioner in Charge of Kogi, Niger and Nasarawa states, Mohammed Haruna, said in an interview in Lokoja said the fear of violence will become a reality only when people fail to turn out to vote.
He said: “Pease as much as possible, people should come out and vote. There are of course apprehensions, the tension is there, it is palpable. But if people come out in enough numbers, even those who wants to perpetrate violence would be afraid.
“It is only when a few people turn up that there would be problem so people should come out in their huge numbers and vote for whom they want to vote to rule the State.”
Speaking on preparation for the election, Haruna said: “To begin with, yesterday the materials were here. The sensitive materials at the CBN by 3pm were deployed to all the 21 Local Government headquarters and a lot of them have arrived their destinations and are moving up to the Registration Area Centers.”
The National Commissioner said so far, security situation across the state has been calm, adding that the police have given assurance that the security situation would remain calm through the period of the election.
Haruna said he was not aware of any challenges surrounding the conduct of the election, saying “Initially, we were a bit worried about the way late court judgements were coming in.
“As it is now, we have two sets of ballot papers, we had already printed them when the court said we must include SDP which we did and then there was one outstanding case and we are not taking chances.
“We printed another set which arrived the day before yesterday. That one includes all the parties and we will only distribute the one that took the two court judgements into account.”
He said the ballot papers that will not be used will remain with the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying “It is the usual practice.
At the end of the election, whatever ballot papers we do not use are collect and returned to the CBN.
“We have a way. We bring in party agents and officials and CBN disposes of them. We have a way of burning them so that nobody would say there is any abracadabra.”
He dismissed speculations that fake ballot papers were in circulation, saying he was not aware of such incident.
Resident Electoral Commissioner James Apam said the Commission has already dispersed voting materials to all the registration centres across the state, adding that they were not bothered by allegations against them.
He said: “We have since gone over that. We are not worried about any accusations. I am doing my work and so far it is fine, we are doing what we are supposed to do. We have trained people, we have sent sensitive materials yesterday and they have been moved to the Registration Area Centres”.