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INEC bows to pressure, excludes Zakari, other national commissioners from collation of polls

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has excluded its National Commissioners, including the widely criticized Amina Zakari, from the collation of presidential poll results.

The commission also revealed its plans to provide unrestricted access to accredited observers, civil society organisations and the media into the situation room.

The electoral umpire made the decision to show its commitment to a transparent election. However, the move is not unconnected with the stiff opposition the commision received for appointing Amina Zakari as part of the collation panel.

Opposition parties and CSOs claimed Zakari, being a relative to the President, is bound to be compromised.

A source close to INEC authorities said the Resident Electoral Commissioners have no business with collation of results.

The source said: “No National Commissioner is in charge of collation of presidential poll results. It is true that there is what is called Collation Centre but it is separate from the Collation Secretariat, which is responsible for the collation of results.

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”No National Commissioner will be appointed into the Secretariat Committee. So, Hajiya Amina Zakari or any National Commissioner does not have anything to do with the collation of results.”

“Related to the Collation Centre is our Situation Room. The international observers and other stakeholders want us to open up the Situation Room.

”The commission met on Saturday and decided that we will grant visitation rights to accredited observers, civil society organisations and the media.

”Observers might not be allowed to see all things but they can come in and out of the Situation Room. The greatest thing INEC has done with this is openness.”

Also speaking on the preparations for the the general elections, the source said: “Our plans are on course, we are happy with the speed.

”We are almost through with the engagement of ad hoc staff. In most cases, we recruit from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) but the irony is that we do not have enough corps members.

“We will recruit students in final year or penultimate year in the universities where there is shortfall. We have established portals for the recruitment of ad hoc staff and as at Saturday, one million (1m) Nigerians have applied.”

The source also allayed fears that Card Readers can either be cloned or pre-loaded.

“It is impossible to compromise Card Readers or pre-load the cards. We have enhanced the cards, we have increased the memory of every card and we have increased the capacity of the battery of each card,” he added.

”Nobody on the field can tamper with any card reader because you have to break the seal.

Meanwhile, in less than 20 days to the general elections, INEC is still grappling with 639 court cases, arising from party primaries.

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