The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has no option but to engage Lagos State Parks Management Committee headed by Musiliu (MC Oluomo) Akinsanya, a Lagos APC chieftain, to distribute election materials.
Olusegun Agbaje, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, said this during the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting at the INEC office on Tuesday, in Lagos.
“There is a ban on the NURTW and RTEAN, we are only left with the Park Management system and NARTO (National Association of Road Transport Owners) and we are already working with NARTO.
“NARTO is not even able to meet up with 40 per cent of our vehicle requirements for this election. The commission in Lagos State does not have any option than to use the park management system,” Mr Agbaje explained.
The INEC official was responding to questions on controversies around the engagement of the MC Oluomo-led committee.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State had banned the operations of the Nation Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state and set up Park Management Committees to administer operations.
However, Mr Agbaje said the commission was not concerned about Mr Akinsanya, a loyalist of APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu.
“We are not dealing with Oluomo, we are dealing with the park managers. Individual people that have vehicles are those we are going to use.
“So, it will be against the law if INEC has to continue to work with NURTW or any other group that is proscribed in the state,” the INEC boss said.
He, however, stressed that working with the state parks management committee would not reduce the credibility of the polls as the movement of electoral personnel and materials would be monitored by security agencies, party agents and observers.
“So, I don’t see how this can compromise the election in any way. Our politicians should see the peculiarity in Lagos State; we cannot work with banned NURTW or RTEAN.
“We need over 5,000 vehicles for this election, including trucks, buses and so on to carry our people and materials for the elections. There is no other way we can go.
“We cannot go to other states and bring vehicles here, it is not allowed by law. The only way we can operate is through the park management system,” he stated.
Mr Agbaje assured that the commission would not use any politically branded vehicle for the elections, such as any vehicle carrying the logo of a party or image of any candidate.
The PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had warned INEC not to use the committee led by Mr Akinsanya, a former NURTW chairman and APC stalwart, to distribute election materials in order not to compromise the election’s integrity.
Mr Abubakar, in a statement on February 2 by his media aide, Phrank Shaibu, said INEC must preserve the sanctity of the election and ensure that there is no room for electoral malpractice.
Mr Shaibu maintained that Mr Akinsanya remained a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and had held solidarity rallies for the party and its presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.