Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday disclosed that the results of today’s presidential and National Assembly elections will be declared within 48 hours.
He said the commission is making all efforts to ensure that results are disclosed much earlier than in 2011, adding that the confidence the commission has in the 48 hour period for the election results was based on the improvements the commission has made since 2011.
Jega stated this during a joint press conference with the director general of the National Youth Service Commission (NYSC), Brig-Gen. Johnson Olawumi, on last minute preparations for the polls.
He however added that not all states will be able to get results within 24 hours.
The INEC boss also debunked allegations that a purported master key for the commission’s database has been compromised, noting that INEC’s database does not use a master key, but a source code for encryption and decryption.
Jega, who was replying to an allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council that the master key was in possession of the APC, said only the producers of the database infrastructure of INEC have the source code.
He said the company, Act Technologies Limited, was approved by the Federal Executive Committee and was never blacklisted.
The INEC chairman further regretted that the allegations over the compromise of its database was baseless and has the propensity to threaten the credibility of the elections.
Jega also noted that the award of the contract to the company passed all required due processes.
He said “it is regrettable and a pity that people can say all sorts of things and get away freely with it.”
He said “it is a last minute attempt to undermine the credibility of the elections.”
He further stated that there is no disagreement with the Inspector General of Police, Suleman Abba, over whether “to vote and go or vote and stay”, noting that voters would have the choice of waiting or staying after casting their votes.
He however said the presence of voters during the counting of votes would enhance the credibility of the polls.
Jega however advised corps members recruited by INEC for the election to take up the assignment with all the seriousness it deserves, noting that their security and welfare have been taken care of.
He hailed the role of corps members in enhancing the electoral process.
On his part, the DG of the NYSC, urged the corps members to handle the assignment with high integrity, while advising them to stay away from any acts that may tarnish the image of the scheme, their families and the nation.
The DG also assured corps members of their welfare and security, noting that while INEC has disbursed 100 per cent for the corps members, the NYSC has disbursed 50 percent of that amount pending the completion of their assignment.
He underscored that the decision to give them some part of the money was to enable them resist any form of pressure from politicians to compromise.
He said the non-payment of corps members allowance is now a thing of the past.
Presidential Poll: We’ll deal with perpetrators of violence, Jonathan warns
* Says security forces are ready
President Goodluck Jonathan has warned those nursing plans to cause violence during today’s presidential poll and the April 11 governorship elections to have a rethink, saying the country’s security forces are fully prepared to deal decisively with culprits.
According to him, while democracy gives room for dissent, encourages differences and disagreements, elections “must never be mistaken for war or an opportunity to set fellow citizens against each other, or tear the country apart”.
Speaking in a nationwide broadcast aired live on television and radio stations, Jonathan noted that he was under oath to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians in the country and as such would not tolerate any form of violence.
Reiterating his popular stance that no political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian, he said Nigeria, under his watch, will never give up its democracy for any other form of government, and urged Nigerians to go out and vote those they want to lead them in tomorrow’s elections as well as the April 11 election.
He said, “Let me warn, however, that as president and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, I am under oath to protect the lives of all Nigerians and the security of our country at all times. I will never abdicate my responsibilities in that regard.
“Those who may harbour any intentions of testing our will by unleashing violence during the elections in order to advance their political ambitions should think again as all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that any persons who breach the peace or cause public disorder during or after the elections are speedily apprehended and summarily dealt with according to our laws.
“The nation’s security agencies are also fully prepared and ready to deal decisively with any group or persons who attempt to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the elections or cause any form of public disorder.
“I will like to restate my belief that no political ambition can justify violence or the shedding of the blood of our people.”
Reaffirming his readiness “to ensure fair play during the elections and to deploy the resources and institutions of state only in the manner prescribed by our laws”, he said today’s election is another important milestone as the country continues to march towards the fulfilment of its God-given potential for greatness.
The president continued: “The election offers us another opportunity to empower leaders of our choice once again, and to show the world that genuine democracy is alive and well in our beloved nation.
“Our dear country, Nigeria is the largest democracy amongst black nations of the world. We are a nation of great accomplishments, with a proud history of evolving affinities. Let us go out tomorrow to vote peacefully and set a fitting example of political maturity for other emerging democracies to follow.”
He added that all Nigerians have worked hard “to nurture and strengthen their democratic institutions and promote the good governance practices which were designed to deliver for the wellbeing of our people”.
Noting that all Nigerians cherish the democracy they now have and will never willingly give it up for any other form of governance, Jonathan urged the electorate “to troop out en masse to peacefully perform your civic duty of voting for leaders of your choice tomorrow”.
“As we do so, let us all-political party leaders, contestants, party members, party agents, supporters and ordinary voters alike-be very conscious of the fact that the eyes of the entire world are on us. We must therefore comport ourselves in a manner that will further strengthen our democracy and consolidate our place in the comity of truly democratic nations,” he stated.
He said on assumption of office, he made a commitment to progressively deliver freer, fairer and more credible elections in the country, which he has fulfilled.
He said, “In keeping with that commitment, the federal government has given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) all necessary support to ensure that it conducts very successful elections tomorrow and on April 11.
“We have all been assured that INEC is fully ready for the elections. I believe that we can all trust that they are certainly more ready now than they may have been before security issues and other concerns necessitated a re-scheduling of the dates for the 2015 general elections.
“As an administration, we welcome the fact that millions of Nigerians who were yet to receive their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) as at February 14, and would therefore have been unfairly disenfranchised if the polls had gone ahead on that date, have seized the opportunity of the re-scheduling to collect their cards and can now exercise their right to vote tomorrow.”
He expressed delight the Armed Forces have successfully stopped the capturing of Nigerian territories in the northeast by the Boko Haram sect.
His words: “They (the military) have recaptured most of the communities and territories formerly occupied by the insurgents, making it possible for thousands of internally-displaced Nigerians to begin returning to their homes and communities.
“I heartily commend the very courageous men and women of our Armed Forces for the immense sacrifices which they continue to make in defending the nation and protecting its citizens.”
20,000 policemen deployed to northeast
About 20, 000 police officers and men have been deployed by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Suleman Abba, for the general elections in the northeast. This was disclosed by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Hillary Okpara, while briefing newsmen at the Bauchi police command.
Okpara, who was posted to coordinate security put in place in the six states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe in the zone, said that the policemen have been adequately trained.
The DIG of police in charge of administration was posted to supervise the security personnel in the zone made up of Zone 12 with headquarters in Bauchi and Zone 3 with headquarters in Yola, for the elections.
“We have enough policemen and apart from the number we have resident in the northeast the IG has sent some additional units of Police Mobile Force (PMF) to come and augment the policemen in the northeast,” he said.
He said that the policemen have been adequately trained, assuring that there was no need for his men to be afraid of Boko Haram insurgents, stressing that provisions have been made to protect Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as well.
The DIG said: “The military are there. There is always a procedure. When the police go out the military will move in. Right now the military are there so the police cannot go in.
“I am not afraid of any threat from Boko Haram. When I leave here (Bauchi), I am going to all the states in the northeast zone. Like I said my chopper will arrive any moment from now and I will take off.”
DIG Okpara said his men would be supported by other security agencies drawn from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigeria Prisons Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
He urged voters from the region to come out and vote, but advised that eligible voters should stay at least 200 metres from the polling units after casting their votes.
“We have provided adequate security for the electorate, local and international observers. The parties have their agents to represent their parties, that is why we are saying for the safety of the results; for the safety of the electoral materials and men; for the safety of all, after casting the votes, voters should keep off.
“Where you have two or three policemen in a polling unit and you have a large crowd hovering over them what do you think will happen? That is why we say there is no point hanging around the polling units after voting.”
On the allegation by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the Bauchi State governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda has recruited over 3,000 vigilantes and equipped them with uniform to intimidate the electorate to vote against their choice, the DIG explained that there was no need to fret.
DIG Okpara said: “The IG has made it clear that only statutorily empowered security agencies will monitor and ensure security in these elections.
“If you go out there, you will see them patrolling. We don’t want any other security agencies to get involved in these elections. The IG has made it clear while briefing the press in Abuja. So we don’t want to see any other person in any uniform not authorised coming out for the elections. If you do that the security agencies will arrest you and charge you to court.”