From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Anambra State, Dr Queen Elizabeth Agwu, has announced that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was at the peak of activities and preparations for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
Dr Agwu said this at the INEC stakeholders meeting in Awka organized to solicit cooperation in voter mobilization and sensitization for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
She said as the general election is less than 90 days, which is the statutory period for the display of the Register of Voters for claims and objections, that the Commission had published a timetable for the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
She explained that the publication would also be made available at the 21 Council Areas offices in Anambra State.
“A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for seamless collection of PVCs has been developed and finalized at the retreat recently organized for all Resident Electoral Commissioners held in Lagos State.
“INEC appreciates the patience and understanding of Ndi-Anambra, especially those who registered as voters or applied for transfer or replacement of their cards from January to July 2022. In making the cards available for collection, the Commission is also working to ensure that the process is hitch-free.
“The Commission has fixed Monday, December 12, 2022, to Sunday, January 22, 2023, as dates for the collection of PVCs, ” she said.
She explained that the Commission also resolved to devolve PVC collection to wards and registration areas from Friday to Saturday, January 6 to 15, 2023, when the exercise would revert to the Commission’s local government offices.
Investigation shows that 132, 626 PVCs remained uncollected across the 21 local government areas of Anambra State.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner quickly added that the INEC, in a meeting on Saturday, November 26, 2022, deliberated on the prosecution of persons arrested for illegal possession of PVCs. She disclosed that it was the wish of the Commission to continue to pursue all violators of the Electoral Act to ensure their prosecution.
Dr Agwu said a number of collation centres and registration area centres were relocated for obvious reasons including insecurity, dilapidated structures, bad terrain and an unsafe haven for the conduct of credible elections.
She also disclosed that the INEC had started the dispatch of non-sensitive materials to States.
“A proactive arrangement is already in place for hitch-free distribution and deployment of election officials and materials to our various local government area offices.
“INEC at all levels is aware of the security situation in the country. We will continue to meet with heads of security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on election security.
“We call on community leaders and traditional institutions including the town union President-Generals to assist security agents in their area to ensure the protection of lives and property,” she said.
The meeting was fully attended by traditional rulers, Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), civil society organisations, among other stakeholders.