By Nathaniel Gana
In fulfillment of its promise made at the weekend to investigate allegations of underage voting in the recently conducted Kano State Local Government election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has set up an 8-member committee to unravel what actually took place.
The Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the disclosure on 21st February, when he received the Executives of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FOSIECON), led by its Chairman, Justice Igbozurike Akomas, at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja.
The INEC Chairman explained that the Committee, headed by National Commissioner, Engineer Abubakar Nahuche, was not expected to investigate the outcome of the Local Government Election conducted by the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KASIEC) as that would be outside the constitutional and legal responsibilities of INEC.
Rather, he noted, the Committee shall focus solely on the allegation of under-aged persons on the voter register.
Professor Yakubu said the Committee’s Terms of Reference are to:
Other members of the Committee are: Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu (National Commissioner), Barrrister Mike Igini, (Resident Electoral Commissioner Akwa Ibom), Barrister Kassim G. Geidam, (REC, Adamawa state), Yakubu M. Duku, (Electoral Operations Department), Mrs Rukayat Bunmi Bello (Voter Registry Department), Mr. Paul Omokore (ICT Department), and Mr Jude Chikezie Okwuonu of the Planning and Monitoring Department (Secretary of the Committee).
Prof. Yakubu used the occasion to reassure the FOSIECON Executives of the Commission’s willingness to continue to partner with SIECs and explore new areas of cooperation.
He further disclosed that the INEC/SIECs Interactive Committee would be reconstituted immediately to hold consultative meetings quarterly. He also maintained that the Commission would not hesitate to review aspects of its collaborations with FOSIECON when the need arises.
INEC and FOSIECON had in 2012, signed a 9-Point Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in areas of technical assistance, voter education and sensitization, violence mitigation and capacity building. The two parties also agreed that FOSIECON would be accredited to observe elections conducted by INEC in order to build the capacity of the SIECs in the management of elections.
Professor Yakubu assured that INEC would continue to improve on its procedures and processes, stressing: “we are totally committed to the task of strengthening our electoral process.”
Earlier in his remarks, The FOSIECON Chairman, Justice Akpomas, solicited the continued cooperation of INEC for more efficient SIECs in the discharge of their constitutional duties.
Justice Akpomas noted that SIECs could succeed in their struggle for financial independence with the support of INEC. He said: “Today, any person who visits the INEC website sees a clock counting down to the 2019 general elections. It is a reflection of how INEC Legal Framework has given her capacity and independence to carryout long-term plan towards elections. This we believe is also achievable for SIECs if INEC supports the struggle of SIECs towards financial independence”, he said.