The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State on Wednesday urged political parties to re-educate their supporters in order to reduce the number of invalid votes recorded during the March 28 elections.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr Akin Orebiyii, said over 52,000 invalid votes were recorded during the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
Orebiyii spoke at the INEC Stakeholders’ Forum in Lagos ahead of Saturday’s gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections.
He said that Lagos State had the highest number of invalid votes in the South-West Zone during the March 28 polls.
“In the South-West, Lagos had 52,000 invalid votes in the last elections which is the highest number.
“This is a lot that can determine the winners here and there; I don’t know why this has happened.
“Please, we need to educate the voters again and again about how to vote, your logos and how to thumbprint very well, it is very important.
“Let us groom, train our party agents to know what to do on the election day,’’ he said.
He urged political parties to complement the commission in educating their supporters on proper way of voting.
According to him, all campaigns on radio, television and newspapers as well as rallies should stop as from 12 midnight on Thursday.
Orebiyii said that the commission had worked on the Smart Card Readers and improved their mechanisms to ensure smooth accreditation process during the polls.
According to him, the commission will strictly use the card readers for accreditation.
“INEC has announced from our headquarters in Abuja that there will not be any manual accreditation at all on April 11. There will not be any waiver.
“We are going to use the Smart Card Reader for every person. If it works, the smart Card Reader records; if it fails to recognise somebody, it also records it.
“That is when we now resort to the use of voters registers to accredit such a person, but we are not going to waive aside the use of the Smart Card Reader this time.
“In extreme cases where between 8.00 a.m. and 1.00p.m. the Smart Card Readers fail to work and we could not provide a replacement immediately, it is in those very few instances that the guidelines provided by INEC allow for electoral process to be continued on Sunday,’’ he said.
He said that the commission would open the 245 Registration Area Centres (Wards) in the state on Friday evening in order to ensure early arrival of materials and staff at the 8,642 polling units on Saturday morning.
Orebiyii cautioned party agents to desist from stopping INEC officials from distributing sensitive materials to polling units on Friday night as reportedly done in the last elections.
He explained that this contributed to the failure of polling materials arriving at the polling units punctually on March 28.
Orebiyii also urged party agents and supporters to be well-behaved, stressing that every issue should be channelled appropriately.
He urged stakeholders to report any gross misconduct of any INEC or ad hoc staff for sanction.
Orebiyii said: “It was possible for us to receive ballot papers yesterday, today we are sharing them into various local government areas.
“Tomorrow, we will move the sensitive materials from Lagos INEC office in Yaba to all the 20 local governments in Lagos.
“In the course of the night on Friday, we are going to share all these materials to the various 8,462 polling units to ensure early arrival of materials,’’ he said.
He said that in areas where there were more than 750 registered voters in a polling unit, voting points had been created to speed up accreditations and voting process.
According to him, there are 12,131 voting points in Lagos and political parties are free to have agents in each of the voting points.
He said every accredited voter should be available before 1.00 p.m. to ensure they were counted before the commencement of voting at 1.30 p.m.
According to him, the polling staff should announce the number of people accredited for everybody to know at the end of accreditation to give credibility to the number of votes after voting had been concluded.
Orebiyii urged voters to support the commission in its efforts to give priority voting to the aged, pregnant women and physically challenged persons.
He said that a copy of the result sheet should be pasted on the wall, a copy given to the security agent and a copy given to the party agent.
He urged party agents to raise objections on any issue at the polling unit, ward, constituency and local government collation centre.
Orebiyii, however, said that only authorised party agents, observers and media would be allowed at the collation centres.
He said the result of the House of Assembly would be announced in all the 40 state constituencies in the state.