Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday announced that it had recovered a total of 983 Permanent Voter Cards snatched during the distribution exercise in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State.
The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mike Igini, disclosed this during a stakeholders’ forum held at the National Orientation Agency office in Benin, the state capital.
The event was attended by representatives of security agencies, civil society organisations, NOA and the National Youth Service Corps, while leaders of the various political parties signed a pact on violence-free elections.
Igini explained that recovered cards were among the 3,661 PVCs stolen in the 18 polling units in the local government and that the commission took delivery of the cards after he received “anonymous calls” about their return.
He said, “I received anonymous calls saying that they were going to return those Permanent Voter Cards. As I speak to you, as of Thursday, we had received a total of 617 from Orhionmwon Local Government Area. That is good news.”
It will be recalled that a total of 4,658 PVCs had been stolen by suspected hoodlums during the distribution exercise in nine local government areas of the state, including Etsako West and Ovia North East, where 997 PVCs went missing. Igini said that while 661 cards were recovered from Urhonigbe North, 322 cards were retrieved from Urhonigbe South polling units.
He, therefore, called for the return of the remaining stolen PVCs yet to be recovered in order not to disenfranchise the rightful owners.
The REC noted that the commission was also set to receive 1,426 PVCs from inter and intra state transfers, adding that the process of distributing the PVCs for persons who took part in the Continuous Voters Registration exercise would commence as soon as they arrived next week.
On the level of voters’ participation, the REC said that 1,046,960 PVCs had been distributed.
He, however, stressed that the challenge facing the commission was not the collection of the PVCs but how to mobilise the over one million eligible voters in Edo to participate at the polls.
He also expressed displeasure that none of the political parties in the state had registered their agents with the commission since they were notified a year ago.
He said that a total of 1,861 card readers had been received for the elections in the state and assured that the application of the cards would ensure that only accredited voters were allowed to vote.
According to him, an eligible voter will complete accreditation in less than a minute, using the card reader which also has a 14-hour battery capacity.
While demonstrating the use of the card reader, Igini explained that PVCs not in the possession of their real owners remained useless, as the commission had put in place measures to ensure that the elections returned “power, in absolute terms to the Nigerian people.”
On the call for the postponement of the polls, Igini said, “That individual statement should not be equated to the opinion of INEC.”