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Prioritize Upcoming Off- cycle Elections, Maintain Neutrality– INEC to CSOs

The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has urged Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, to take the off-cycle Governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi seriously because it is critical to the Commission and the nation.

Yakubu made the call in a remark when he hosted the leaders of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs to a Quarterly consultative held in Abuja noting that the focus of this meeting is on the three off-cycle Governorship elections to be held in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States on Saturday 11th November 2023.

He said: ” I am glad to note that many of you here today are deploying teams of observers for the three elections. Overall, the Commission has accredited 145 organisations deploying 7,896 observers. In the next few days, accredited organisations will be invited to collect the identity cards for their observers.

” Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi Governorship elections are critical to the Commission. At this meeting, we will fully brief you about our level of preparations. In return, we will appreciate your comments and observations.

” As you are aware, the Commission conducted a mock accreditation involving actual voters in designated polling units in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States two weeks ago. By doing so, we tested the efficacy of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for both biometric authentication of voters and the upload of results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).

” Some of you observed the mock accreditation exercise and viewed the results on the IReV portal. We have received no adverse report so far. By this, we are encouraged that the test was successful, and we look forward to improved performance of the BVAS in voter accreditation and result upload in the forthcoming Governorship elections and beyond.

” Election is a multi-stakeholder activity. In discharging our responsibilities, we will continue to engage with all stakeholders. One of such engagements is with the security agencies. In previous elections, civil society organisations have expressed concern about the safety of persons involved in elections as well as the protection of the process, including polling units and collation centres.

” Similarly, civil society organisations have on several occasions urged the Commission to intercede with the security agencies to grant you unimpeded access to voting and collation locations. I want to reassure you that we will continue to do so as we engage with the security agencies both at the national level and in the three States. At the same time, I wish to remind all accredited observers to strictly adhere to the code of conduct for election observation”, he stated.

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