The Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) has said that it would no longer store sensitive electoral materials in the coffers of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Saturday in Abuja at a symposium tagged ‘The Electorate: A Conversation on Elections in Nigeria’.
According to him, in the interim, the CBN will no longer be in charge of election materials beginning with the Ekiti State governorship election scheduled for June 18.
Sensitive materials stored with the CBN during elections include ballot papers, results sheets, and braille ballot guide for visually-impaired persons, among others.
The development is coming on the heels of the controversy surrounding the political interest of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, believed to have nursed the presidential ambition under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“We are not going to use CBN for Ekiti elections. The materials will be moved from our headquarters in Abuja to airport then to our state office,” Yakubu said.
Asked whether the commission’s decision had to do with the partisanship allegedly displayed by Emefiele, Yakubu evaded the question, saying INEC was experimenting better ways to secure the materials.
He said, “We are experimenting better ways in which can secure the processes, so not necessarily related to what is happening in the Central Bank. Our intention is to always improve and take complete ownership of the process.”
The INEC boss also said that the commission has responded to the demands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by furnishing the anti-graft agency with the bank accounts and other financial details of political parties.
The EFCC had launched a discreet investigation into the finances of the 18 registered political parties in the country and their presidential aspirants following the humongous fees paid for expression of interest and nomination forms by aspirants vying for various elective offices in the parties.
“The commission has responded. We wrote already to the EFCC. They asked for information and we are duty bound to provide that information and we did so,” Yakubu said.
He, however, said that the commission had yet to audit the campaign finances of parties since 2018.
He said that the law provides the electoral umpire to publish in a number of dailies and submit the report to the National Assembly.
He said, “We haven’t audited the campaign finances of parties since 2018 because that year was an election year. Immediately after the 2019 election, we decided to audit the accounts then COVID-19 set in.
However, we have engaged firms to audit the accounts and very soon we would publish the report.”
On printing of ballot papers abroad, Yakubu assured that the 430 million ballot papers to be used in the 2019 election will be printed in Nigeria.
He said the preference of the commission has always to print the sensitive materials within the country.
Yakubu said, “Nigeria is a huge country and the voter population is huge. Conducting elections in Nigeria is like conducting election in the whole of West Africa.
“Sometimes, because of the shortness of time between completion of primaries and nomination of candidates for elections, for obvious reasons, the commission had to print some sensitive materials outside the country, not all.
“This time around, we have time and we would be able to patronise our local printers. In all the off season and bye elections we have conducted, we have not printed any sensitive materials outside the country. Now that we have time, we will patronise the printers locally.”