All sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections are in CBN custody – INEC chair

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections are in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

This was disclosed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye, to our correspondent on Tuesday.

It would be recalled that individuals and groups in 2022 raised serious concerns about the sanctity of elections materials kept with the CBN, after news about the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, indicating interest to contest for the country’s presidential seat trended.

As a result, the Chairman, INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, on June 4, 2022, said sensitive electoral materials would in the meantime no longer be routed through the CBN.

The INEC chairman noted that the electoral body had never had an issue with the CBN since the partnership started, but due to “current circumstances”, an alternative would be found.

However, Okoye stated that the commission has printed and delivered most of the sensitive materials, such as results and ballot papers, and kept them with the CBN for movement to the commission’s local government offices across the country.

He also noted that INEC had almost concluded the delivery of the non-sensitive materials across the country.

Explaining the delivery of sensitive materials ahead of the forthcoming elections, Okoye said, “The commission is ready for the February 25 and March 11, 2023 general elections. The commission has taken delivery of the full complement of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System for the 176,846 polling units in Nigeria. The BVAS will be deployed to all the polling units except the 240 polling units that have zero voters. The commission has taken delivery of the redundancies for the 8, 809 Registration Areas and the 774 local government areas of the country.

“The commission has tested the BVAS and carried out mock accreditation and they are fit for purpose in terms of hardware and software upgrades. The process of configuration of the BVAS has commenced and the commission is satisfied with the progress made so far. The BVAS is a sensitive election material and they are in safe locations under heavy security. The BVAS is the ultimate arbiter and game-changer, and Nigerians expect it to perform optimally. The BVAS is the albatross of election riggers and identity thieves and those with false identity should keep away from the polling units.

“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.”

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