The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Sunday reiterated the status of the internally displaced people (IDPs) in the forthcoming General elections, saying only Nigerians who are within the territory of the country would vote.
According to INEC, those internally displaced people who reside in states other than their states of origin will only participate in presidential election while the IDPs living in their own states would vote in all elections.
INEC National Commissioner, Barr. Festus Okoye stated this during an interactive session with INEC Youth Ambassadors (IYA) where 22 new ambassadors including musicians, entertainers and media personalities were unveiled in Lagos on Saturday night.
The IYA scheme supported by the European Center for Electoral Support (ECES) is a youth mobilization strategy launched in 2014 to drive youth participation in electoral process, according to the Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu represented by National Commissioner and Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee, Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola.
The commission also explained why it fixed February 16 for the 2019 presidential election, saying the date is the third Saturday of the second month of the election as designed in the timetable of future elections.
Okoye while clearing the air on recent controversy over IDPs voting said Nigerians in Cameroon, Chad and Niger are not internally displaced but refugees and they were not entitled to vote.
He said, “Only Nigerians who are within the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be able to vote. All those who are displaced in camps as a result of natural disasters, as a result of insecurity or as a result of other emergencies and who are duly registered will vote in this election.”
According to him, INEC had adopted a framework for their participation in the election.
He emphasized that INEC would not create polling units outside the shores of Nigeria, adding that the commission would not impinge on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other nations in the course of the election.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee gave insights into the INEC’s timetable for future elections, saying the Presidential election remains the third Saturday of the second month of the election year.
ECES Project Coordinator, Mr. Rudof Elbing represented by Dominic Weerts called on all Nigerians to be committed to fair, free and transparent election which is the concern of the European Union (EU).
The 22 new ambassadors join 14 others already enlisted into the IYA scheme. They included popular musicians – Korede Bello; Chidinma Ekile; Cobhams Asuquo; Aituaje Iroube Waje and Yinka Ayefele.
Others are Comedians Bright Okpocha, Abovi Ugboma (Bovi), Ayo Makun; Entertainer Uti Nwachukwu; Presenter Gimba Umar; Actress Adesuwa, Actor Sani Danja, among others.