The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Thursday briefed the media on the commission’s preparations for the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States scheduled for Saturday 11th November 2023.
Prof. Yakubu said that the commission had conducted a mock accreditation exercise involving actual voters in designated polling units in the three States to test the efficacy of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for both biometric authentication of voters and the upload of result to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).
“We have received no adverse report so far. By this, we are encouraged that the test was successful and we look forward to improved performance of the BVAS in voter accreditation and result upload in the forthcoming Governorship elections and beyond,” he said.
Yakubu also assured media organisations that the commission would continue to engage with the security agencies to ensure the safety of journalists, technical staff and protection of the equipment they deploy on Election Day.
“Similarly, you have on several occasions urged the Commission to intercede with the security agencies to grant you unimpeded access to polling and collation locations. I want to reassure you that we will continue to do so as we engage with the security agencies both at the national level and in the three States,” he said.
Yakubu urged media organisations to strictly adhere to the ethics of their profession and to form a bulwark against fake news.
“We welcome reports on the election. At the same time, you should form a bulwark against fake news. For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission does not believe in censorship. We have said repeatedly that the best antidote to fake news is greater openness and regular and consistent engagement with stakeholders. We will continue to work together in this regard,” he said.
Yakubu said that the Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi Governorship elections were critical to the commission and that he would fully brief the media about the commission’s level of preparations at the meeting.
“In return, we will appreciate your comments and observations,” he said.