By Oginyi Ruth
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ebonyi State, Prof Godswill Obioma, has reiterated the commitment of the commission towards conducting a credible, transparent and violence free elections in the state.
Obioma gave the assurance at a stakeholders’ forum held at the INEC state headquarters in Abakaliki.
The interactive forum was attended by stakeholders including traditional rulers, Town Union Leaders, Students’ union bodies, Civil Society Organizations, security agencies, leaders of registered political parties and representatives from the European Union (EU) election observer team.
Obioma empahsised that INEC would remained non partisan, neutral and would ensure that the exercise is free and fair across the state..
According to him, “We will not only conduct free, fair and credible elections but we will be seen to have conducted an election that meets international best standard. All votes that are legitimately cast will count while votes that are not properly cast will not count and we will not award votes won by any candidate to another candidate.
“We are going to be bound by the oaths which we have sworn to uphold the integrity of the elections and to maintain high ethical standard in our conduct. We assure the people of Ebonyi that INEC under our watch in Ebonyi will ensure that all votes must count in the elections.”
He further appealed to all registered voters in the state who have not collected their Voter’s Card (PVCs) to go for it until the February 8 deadline for collection.
He informed the participants that following the new election guidelines, accreditation and voting will take place at same time.
“We implore all stakeholders to intensify sensitisation campaign in their various localities to mobilize electorate who have yet to collect their PVCs to go and get them to be able to participate in the elections.
“We have over 199000 yet unclaimed PVCs and we are going to use the SCR for the elections and any eligible voter without PVC will not be able to cast his or her vote.
“It is important that we go back and tell our people this truth; that the elections will be conducted with card reader and that no PVC no voting “, he added.
He cautioned against vote buying and selling and appealed to the stakeholders to sensitize their people against trading with their PVCs.
He said that people without right thumbs would be allowed to thumb print on the ballot paper with the left thumb while those without both thumbs would use the right big toe to vote.
The REC urged party members to report to the police if attacked or harassed on the Election Day.