The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) that the ongoing voters registration exercise would not be compromised.
The Commission gave the assurance at a meeting it held with leaders of Lagos DPA at their party secretariat in Jibowu area of Yaba Lagos.
Speaking on behalf of the Commission, Public Relations Officer for INEC Lagos State, Mr. Biodun Amosu, regretted reports that some its staff had been involved in underhanded conducts in the registration exercise.
Lagos DPA’s Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, recalled that party members recently complained that INEC field officers were demanding bribes before registering voters, colluding with politicians to register ghost voters and declaring submitted voting slips lost in suspicious circumstances.
The party specifically accused some INEC staffers of colluding with politicians in the Action Congress (AC) to perpetrate card hoarding and proxy registration.
However, Mr. Amosu, who made the fence-mending visit to the Lagos DPA Chairman, Chief Supo Shonibare, and other party executives, promised that INEC would play the unbiased and neutral umpire in the polls. He said the commission would look into the allegations and anyone found culpable would be sanctioned.
According to him, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Ogbe, had often warned officers against abusing their offices and to desist from being nefariously used by politicians.
Although Amosu wished DPA had brought the matter to the Commission before raising an alarm in the Press, he commended the party for its matured approach to handling issues. He also promised that the Commission would do its best to discharge its functions in the state without denting its image, while he expressed its commitment to building a cordial relationship with politicians and political parties in the state.
Highly appreciative of the visit and the assurances, DPA chieftains threw more light on the allegations, especially in one particular local government in metropolitan Lagos.
They assured the INEC spokesman that the party raised the alarm not because it wanted to embarrass the agency but to ensure that the Commission’s chieftains were brought abreast with facts on the ground to enable them redress and correct the objectionable situation.
DPA chieftains further assured the Commission that they and INEC were partners in progress and were committed to the entrenchment, sustenance and survival of democracy in the country.
Urging the Commission to urgently nip the misdeeds in the bud, the party noted that a similar scenario had played out in previous exercises and had produced flawed elections.
The party further urged the Commission to bring to book staffers whose misconduct threatened the sanctity of the registration exercise.
Lagos DPA had said in its report that: “Any politician knows that electoral rigging begins with the registration of voters. Once politicians have that pinned down, then all other rigging plans simply fall into place and the election is as good as cooked. A cooked voters’ register will encourage the hiring of ECOMOG voters, double voting and fake results. When heartless politicians heap the register with fake voters for which they have cards in waiting, then they can recruit mercenaries on a cash-and-carry basis on Election Day. They can also inflate votes in low-density polling zones.”