Monday Tom Udoh, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Comission (INEC) in Bayelsa State, on Thursday said the commission had retrieved 22 smart card readers out of the 69 stolen by political thugs during the February 23 presidential and national assembly election in the state.
He also said INEC would take strict penalty measures in areas where card readers are yet to be recovered.
Udoh declared a two-day amnesty for card reader thieves during the February 23 elections, warning them to return the commission's property in their possession.
Speaking in Yenagoa on Thursday during the stakeholders meeting with leaders of political parties, he further explained that out of the 24 missing in Nembe Local Government area, only 14 were recovered, while three of the eight stolen in Sagbama had been recovered. In Southern Ijaw LGA, out of 24, two were returned, while three of the six stolen in Yenagoa had been seen.
Commending the Civil Liberty Society (CLO), religious leaders, community chiefs, youth, women groups and major stakeholders for reaching out to electoral thugs before some of the cards were returned, Udoh said INEC would continue to perform the role of the unbiased umpire in the elections.
He also urged the people of the state to leave the incident of the past elections and eschew violence for a better election in the state, adding that election is not war but a process for leaders to emerge.
"If those you are to lead are all dead, what is the gain?" he asked.
“Election is not war. Where there’s peace you find progress and development. So by the time you kill those you are to lead what is the gain and who will you lead? Let us all allow peace to reign in the state, before, during and after the elections."