Electoral officials deny being quizzed by Nigeria’s secret police

Earlier reports said the DSS’ invitation to the electoral officials was meant to kick-start an investigation
Staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) start confirming over again 7,000 portable permanent voter card (PVC) readers ahead of the postponed predidential and general election at the River State INEC office in Port Harcourt, southern Nigeria, on February 18, 2019. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

Election officials have denied being quizzed by Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Security Service.

“No six directors were summoned by security officials and no house of the Commission’s official was burgled”, Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission or INEC informed journalists on Tuesday at a daily briefing in Abuja.

Yakubu was reacting to earlier reports that its commissioner in charge of logistics, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, had been summoned by the secret police to appear along with six other officials to explain their roles in last Saturday’s botched elections that had to be rescheduled for February 23, due to shortage of election materials across some states. 

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday stated that the government will open an inquiry into the postponement of the country’s February 16 presidential and parliamentary polls. He accused the electoral commission of incompetence.

“The reason why such incompetence manifested has to be explained to the nation. After the elections, we have to know exactly what happened and who is responsible. Otherwise, our efforts to make sure that this system is acceptable would have been eroded.” Buhari said at an executive committee meeting of the ruling APC. 

Earlier reports said the DSS invitation to the electoral officials was meant to kick-start an investigation ahead before a formal inquiry opens after the general elections would have been concluded.

But despite the denial, informed sources familiar with the summons told News Central that the invitation did take place and that the INEC top official was only downplaying it so as not to add to the tensed atmosphere in the polity. 

When News Central asked the INEC boss why an adhoc logistics committee had to be put in place instead of INEC’s institutional committee charged with such responsibility in past elections and headed by Ibeanu, he explained that the adhoc decision was a carry over from a couple of years ago when the electoral commission had a shortage of manpower at management level. He opined that it had in the recent past achieved alot. 

Yakubu apologised again for the shoddy logistics that led to the postponement but not after confirming reports that election materials meant for the northern state of Katsina were sent to the nation’s capital, Abuja thereby making the shifting of election inevitable.

The rescheduled polls will hold on Saturday and the electoral commission says about 180,000 electronic card readers for accreditation of permanent voter cards have been reconfigured.

Nigerians will be voting for a new president out of seventy two presidential candidates. The major contenders are incumbent President Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and Atiku Abubakar of the major opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. 


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