The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday in Abakaliki met with traditional rulers in Ebonyi to brainstorm on ways to achieve credible and violence free elections in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Chairman of Ebonyi Traditional Rulers Council, Ezeogo Charles Nkpuma, led other traditional rulers to the dialogue session held at the headquarters of the commission.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Godswill Obioma, disclosed that the meeting was to brief the monarchs on preparation for the forthcoming elections.
”The whole essence of this dialogue and interactive session with you is to bring our royal fathers on board on the electoral process, what we have done so far in Ebonyi, how prepared we are and the areas we want you to collaborate with us.
”We are committed to conducting credible, smooth and successful elections in Ebonyi and we believe that this engagement will enable you mobilise your subjects to go and collect their voter cards,” Obioma said.
Obioma solicited support of the monarchs on the areas of collection of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) which he said had become more friendly.
He said: ”We created special collection centres to make PVCs collection more friendly and easier for the owners.
”We have stepped down collection from ward levels to polling units and have gone ahead to create special centres at the Abakaliki Main Market, Kpiri-kpiri Market, Rice Mill, mechanic village and all the tertiary institutions in the state.
”We are appealing to you to mobilise your subjects to go to any of the collection centres nearest to them to collect their voter cards.
”We appeal to you to inform the youths in your communities to maintain peace and keep away from violence before, during and after the elections,” he said.
Obioma also emphasised the need for the traditional rulers to sensitise their subjects against selling their PVCs, explaining that the voter cards were the legal power available to the electorate to exercise their franchise.
”It is an infraction to the law for people to sell their PVCs or for politicians to buy their votes,” he added.
He further informed the traditional rulers that collection of PVCs would end on Feb. 8, one week before the presidential and national assembly elections.
Nkpuma, the traditional ruler of Ezzama Community in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi, pledged to assist the commission to succeed in the task of conducting free, fair and credible elections in Ebonyi.
He commended the REC and the commission for engaging critical stakeholders in the state ahead of the general elections.
The royal father said that the dialogue had enlightened them on what INEC was doing to ensure hitch-free electoral contest and pledged full support of the monarchs to the commission.
”This is the first time we are having such an engagement with INEC and we are happy because there is no tension in the state.
”We have not witnessed any shootings or killings in any part of the state and this is due to the way you are handling the activities in the commission.
”We will partner the commission to enhance peaceful conduct of the elections in the state,” Nkpuma assured.
NAN reports that over 1.4 million voters are expected to participate in the forthcoming general elections in Ebonyi.
NAN further reports that a total of 318,006 voters registered in the 2015, 2017 and 2018 registrations with 144,674 collections while an outstanding 173,332 PVCs has yet to be claimed.