According to Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections are being held by the Central Bank of Nigeria. This information was disclosed to a correspondent on Tuesday.
In 2022, concerns were raised by individuals and groups regarding the safety of election materials stored with the CBN after reports surfaced that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, was interested in running for the country’s presidential seat. In response to these concerns, the Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, announced on June 4, 2022, that sensitive electoral materials would no longer be routed through the CBN.
It seems that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria has been working closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the distribution and storage of sensitive materials, such as results and ballot papers, for the upcoming general elections on February 25 and March 11, 2023. However, due to “current circumstances”, an alternative will be found.
According to Festus Okoye, a national commissioner and chairman of INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee, the commission has almost concluded the delivery of non-sensitive materials across the country. INEC has also taken delivery of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the 176,846 polling units in Nigeria, and has tested the system for fit and purpose in terms of hardware and software upgrades. The BVAS is a sensitive election material that is in safe locations under heavy security, as it is considered the ultimate arbiter and game-changer in the election process.
Okoye has also warned against election rigging and identity theft, emphasizing that the BVAS will be used to prevent such fraudulent activities. Overall, INEC appears to be ready for the upcoming elections and has taken steps to ensure the security and integrity of the electoral process.
“The commission has printed and delivered the bulk of the sensitive materials meant for the conduct of national elections, in terms of result sheets and ballot papers. These materials have been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria, awaiting movement to the various local government offices of the commission. The commission has almost concluded the delivery of the non-sensitive materials and they are presently being batched in accordance with the Registration Areas. The training of various categories of ad hoc staff has commenced and the commission is satisfied with the progress made so far.”
When asked if INEC had accredited and given tags to election observers, Okoye stated, “Domestic and international observers applied for accreditation using the Commissions Observer and Party Agents Portal. The commission does not distribute domestic observer tags in the headquarters.
The observers are domiciled in particular local governments and states based on their strength, presence, and geographical coverage. The observer tags are collected at the state level and a few days to the election, these tags will be made available at the state level. The same thing applies to polling agents’ tags.”