Opposition parties in Lagos have raised concerns about the location of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) offices in local government secretariats controlled by the ruling All Progressives Congress.
They raised the concerns on Thursday during a stakeholders’ meeting organised by INEC in Lagos State, on collection of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The parties alleged that agents of the ruling APC usually mill around LG secretariats where INEC offices are domiciled to screen people who come to collect their PVCs, thereby making it difficult for perceived members of the opposition parties to collect their PVCs.
They therefore ask for relocation of the INEC offices away from the LGA secretariats controlled by the ruling party.
The Labour Party chairman in Lagos, Olukayode Kolawole, who had earlier led a walk to INEC office in Yaba Lagos to raise this concern on behalf of all opposition parties, said this has been the feedbacks they get from members of their parties each time they go to collect their PVCs.
Speaking with Peoples Gazette at the stakeholders’ meeting, Mr Kolawole said, “We have engaged the commission on this, and the commission told us they are aware of the challenge but may not have an immediate solution to it.”
Responding to a question by The Gazette correspondent, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje, said they were working to make sure that nobody gets disturbed whenever they go to the INEC offices in the local government secretariats to collect their PVCs. He said the commission is also working towards having those offices relocated outside the secretariats.
“We are going to deploy security to ensure anyone who registered gets their PVC without any hindrance,” said Mr Agbaje.
He added, “We are still faced with the challenge of getting plots of land. In Lagos mainland, we just got a land and our head office has been alerted about this, if it is possible for us to build the office before the election, I believe they will do that, because this is one of the areas we had challenges during the voters registration exercise, same thing in Eti-Osa where we have have just got a land too.”
“As it stands today, we have about sixteen offices outside the LG Secretariats,” the REC said.
Meanwhile, Mr Agbaje in his speech, called the attention of the stakeholders to some electoral data pertaining to Lagos State as follows; The number of Registration Areas (Electoral Wards): 245, number of Polling Units: 13,225, the, number of Registration Area Centers (RACs)/Super RACs: 224. The number of BVAS to be provided are 13,325, while contingency be provided where necessary.
He went further to state that 18 candidates are jostling for one presidential seat; 16 governorship candidates competing for one governorship seat; 28 candidates for 3 senatorial seats; 162 House of Representatives candidates jostling for 24 seats; and 394 candidates for 40 House of Assembly seats.
The REC reiterated INEC’s position on ensuring that not even the party agents are allowed to stay closer than 300 metre radius to the ballot boxes after casting their votes.