Umuahia – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Thursday, called for markets in Abia State to be closed for a day or two to enhance the collection of hundreds of thousands of permanent voter cards yet to be claimed by their owners.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Abia, Joseph Iloh, made the call in Umuahia at a joint media briefing with heads of security agencies in the state at the end of the meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
The meeting, which lasted four hours, was facilitated by Hope Givers Initiative (HGI), a non-governmental organization, as part of its engagement with the electoral body to enthrone a culture of transparent, free, fair, credible and violent free election in the land.
The meeting was attended by all the heads of security agencies in the state as well as other relevant federal agencies, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).
The REC said that a total of 387,000 PVCs were yet to be collected and that there was no way owners of the uncollected PVCs would participate in the 2019 general election which is just around the corner, warning that collection of PVC by proxy was totally prohibited.
He noted that during the CVR period, the closure of markets on designated days by the leadership of the Abia State Market Traders Association (ASMATA) greatly enhanced the participation of traders in the registration exercise; hence the impressive record of voter registration was recorded by INEC in Abia.
The state INEC boss said that it was worrisome that after an impressive turnout of prospective voters during the CVR, the enthusiasm died down when the PVCs were ready for collection.
He, therefore, reasoned that if the market leaders could consider adopting the same strategy of pressing the pause button to halt business activities on designated days, it would compel those reluctant to leave their market stores to go and collect their PVCs.