The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has discovered 19 illegal polling units in Akwa Ibom.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Mike Igini, made the disclosure at Enlarged Stakeholders’ Forum in Uyo in Monday.
The REC said that the illegal polling units were in Obot Akara and Uyo Local Government Areas, adding that that some of the polling units were located in hotels, church, mosques among others.
He said that INEC found that the polling units concerned were located in violation of its guidelines; therefore there was the need to relocate and rename some polling units in the state.
Igini, however, urged the people not to see the relocation of the polling units as a creation of new polling units, stressing that that no new polling units had been created.
He said the essence of the forum was “to enable us see face to face and interact freely. “
“We are here to present the commission electoral plan and strategic implementation plan, hear from you and carefully consider the concerns and ideas of everyone on how we can serve you better,” he said.
The REC cautioned politicians who might have plans to rig the 2019 general elections to desist because INEC of today has evolved beyond rigging.
Igini said INEC had “advanced to a level where everything is tracked.“
“We must conduct an election that will be accepted by the people without recourse to the tribunals. We have done it elsewhere and we will do it here.
“You are going to have little or minimal petitions. Election is a time where the independence and integrity of institutions like INEC, security agencies and judiciary are tested.”
He also said the forum was organized as an opportunity to engage stakeholders of all political persuasions and have a robust engagement.
The REC advised leaders of political parties in the state to talk to their party members the need for them conduct ensuring strict adherence to the code of conduct of the electoral acts.
He stressed the need for political parties to commence the process of identifying committed party members to serve as agents during the general elections.
Igini assured that the forthcoming election would not tolerate or accommodate thuggery in the state.
“Campaign messages should encapsulate the principles of accommodation, decency and with strict adherence to the rule of law.
He emphasized that the best way to win the forthcoming general elections was to mobilize supporters to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
Igini however, noted that collection of PVCs in the state was 50 per cent, a development he described as very low.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi, pledged the neutrality of the police to ensure that all forms of intimidation on the electorate were eliminated, during and after the exercise.
He said that the command had strategised ways to train security personnel on what was required of them before, during and after the elections.
The police boss warned against any form of intimidation or harm against corps members deployed to the polling units.
“No youth corps member will be molested, harmed or killed in Akwa Ibom.
“We are going to view any embarrassment on corps member more seriously than any other offense in the state.
“If you ferment problem you go in for it, we are going to prosecute all electoral offenders.
“We must have peace and security and we must not allow any clash of event,” he said.
The theme of the forum is “Broad outline of 2019 Election in Akwa Ibom, The Road Map.”