The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said 2,045 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) had been stolen from its office in Akwa Ibom.
INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Akwa Ibom, Delta and Cross River, Dr Mohammed Lecky, made this known at a news briefing in Uyo on Tuesday.
He said that the cards were stolen from the commission’s office in Okobo Local Government Area during the recent primary elections by some political parties.
Lecky said that the police were already looking into the issue and would soon apprehend the culprits.
He said that the stolen PVCs could not be used to vote as they were useless to those who stole them, adding that stealing the PVCs was a waste of time. He said that it would only cost INEC extra money to reproduce them.
“The PVCs were stolen in Okobo Local Government Area. There were 2,045 PVCs that were stolen. We have visited the local government area and have seen a lot of security lapses around the local government office.
“It was due to a mob action which was the consequence of the primary elections that were taking place that time and the police are looking into the matter.
“Those things were stolen from the office where we kept them for safe keeping. It is a nullity because we have the list of everybody, their names, pin number, picture and data register.
“It will only cost INEC money to reproduce the PVCs and make them available. But, we have to go after the culprits who were responsible so that they can be punished,” he said.
The commissioner disclosed that the display of the voter register was successful in the state. He, however, criticized the display of campaign billboards all over the state before the opening of campaigns and warned politicians that the practice was a violation of the electoral laws.
“If you walk around the state, you will see a number of billboards already making campaign promises. This is not acceptable; we will make sure this is discouraged. Campaigns cannot start before Nov. 18.
“By doing that, we should know we will be violating the rules of engagement. It is not yet Nov. 18 and we have a lot of billboards with campaign messages.
“Political campaigns are supposed to be events that mark political parties educating the electorate of their manifestos, what they intend to do for the people. We implore the political parties to abide by INEC rules and regulations.
“No campaigns are supposed to start before Nov. 18 for the Presidential and National Assembly elections. “We do not encourage campaigns messages that are hateful in nature. Hate speech will engineer people to become violent and hate speech is a clear danger to our electoral process and therefore should be discouraged,” he said.
The commissioner urged the media and Akwa Ibom people to hold politicians accountable for the propagation of hate speech in the country.