Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega has admitted that there were some irregularities and imperfections in the October 20, 2012, governorship election in Ondo State.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND in Washington, DC, United States, on Thursday night, Jega said: “To be honest, there were some imperfections and irregularities during the just-concluded governorship poll in Ondo State. The irregularities were very few compared to all the other elections we have conducted since April 2011.
“For example, in Ilaje area, we had a situation where some National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members disappeared on the election day and we had to cancel results in about 25 wards; the number of wards cancelled did not affect the final result but it is an unfortunate thing that there were such irregularities because these are people who have signed up for election duty and they disappeared when they were needed.”
The INEC chairman stated further that there are always irregularities in any election but noted that the most important thing is that such irregularities should not constitute factors that can affect the success of elections.
Speaking on the allegations of the opposition parties that the election was rigged in favour of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, Jega said: “You know politicians can say anything they like and you cannot stop people from making accusations or allegations, but if they have any evidence, let them go and prove it in the court.
“It is clear and the fact of the matter is that we trained corps members. We knew they were supposed to come and collect materials and, suddenly, they did not come to collect those materials; they disappeared. And you know there was nothing we could do than to make sure that no election took place in the affected areas. If election did not take place, you couldn”t declare results in those places.”
Earlier at a seminar tagged “Towards the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria”, held at the Wilson Centre in Washington, DC, Jega said that the electoral body was striving to make 2015 elections substantially better than 2011 by drawing lessons and factoring them into the commission’s preparations for the polls.
He also berated Nigerian politicians who often make use of their resources and influence to exhibit what he called “do or die mentality”, stressing that INEC would continue to work on such politicians in order to achieve remarkable improvement in the 2015 elections in Nigeria.
He also said that electoral offences are often committed in Nigeria with impunity, adding that this was the reason the electoral body supports the calls for the establishment of an electoral offences tribunal that will be handling the prosecution of electoral offenders.
Speaking on the preparations of INEC for the 2015 elections, Jega promised that it would improve on stakeholders’ consultations, increase civic and voter education, refine and improve use of technology and accreditation, improve in the training of electoral officers and increase transparency and integrity of the country’s electoral process.