The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Imo says it will conduct free, fair and credible elections in the forthcoming general elections.
Prof. Francis Ezeonu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo, made the promise on Thursday during a Town Hall Meeting/Sensitisation Campaign on the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) in Orsu and Oru East Local Government areas of the state.
He said that the commision had resolved to correct mistakes of the past by following strictly the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act on elections.
He enjoined politicians not to try to induce the commission’s staff and ad-hoc staff as their efforts would be fruitless.
Ezeonu advised youths not to allow themselves to be manipulated or used by politicians to cause confusion during elections.
He urged the people of Orsu and Oru East to set aside election apathy, but encourage and mobilise themselves to register in the ongoing CVR to be empowered to vote for candidates of their choice.
Mr Victor Nwokoabia, Head, INEC Election and Party Monitoring Unit, said Sections 85 and 86 of the Electoral Act empowered the commission to monitor activities of political parties and political party campaigns.
Mrs Emmanuela Ben-Opara, the Head of Election Education, urged youths and women to avail themselves of the registration exercise to register enmass to ensure they delivered candidates of their choice.
She said those that were now 18 years of age, those whose cards were lost, defaced and those who wanted to transfer their voting residency were all expected to meet INEC staff to effect whatever changes so desired.
Mr Leonard Anetoh, the Electoral Officer in Orsu Local Government, described the meeting as a rare opportunity for stakeholders to interface with one another and the INEC management in the state.
Anetoh said the local government registered a total of 44,537 voters during the 2015 general elections of which 28,342 PVCs were yet to be collected.
He said that only 353 PVCs had been collected out of the 4,049 PVCs registered in the CVR.
Mrs Juliet Nkemdirim, the Electoral Officer in Oru East Local Government, expressed regret that every action of the commission was being viewed with cynicism, some borne out of ignorance and lack of information or sheer political apathy.
She said that stakeholders needed to reason together to tackle the problems.
Nkemdirim said that PVCs were not only compulsory, but indispensable.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some stakeholders at the meeting commended INEC for the sensitisation and urged it to operate independently as its name signified.
Thy asked for more supervisors for effective supervision of the exercise in areas that have high numbers of voters during elections.
The stakeholders also complianed of negative attitude of some of the commission’s staff, which they said, had caused delay in registration exercise and called for a change of attitude.
Mr Benjamin Ekwueme, a former Commissioner for Public Utilities and Mr Cyril Okafor, Commissioner for Tourism in Imo, both indigenes of the area, commended INEC for the sensitisation exercise.
They called on the people to support INEC to ensure that the electoral process succeeded for credible elections in 2019.