Politics

INEC clarifies use of mobile devices at polling units

Written by Maritime First

…As Oyo govt shuts down Obasanjo farms, others***

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it was not banning the use of smart phones around the polling unit areas, but the moment a prospective voter entered voting cubicle to cast his or her vote.

The Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, made the declaration in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.

He stated this while reacting to the statement issued by the the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Uche Secondus, condemning the decision of INEC to ban the use of smart phones at polling booths.

Oyekanmi said that Nigerians were fully aware of the challenge of vote-buying and selling that reared its ugly head in recent elections.

He said that had prompted many stakeholders to call on INEC to devise innovative ways to tackle the problem.

“In consultation with other stakeholders, the Commission came up with new measures to solve the problem, one of which is to disallow the use of smart phones and other electronic devices in the voting cubicles on election day.

“In other words, INEC is not banning phones around the polling unit area, but the ban takes effect from the moment a prospective voter collects his or her ballot paper and enters into voting cubicle to thumb print and thereafter drop the folded ballot paper into the ballot box.

“After that, the voter can have access to his or her phone.”

Oyekanmi urged Nigerians to disregard any attempt by any individual or group to politicise what was purely a preventive measure.

Secondus had, in a statement by his Media Adviser Ike Abonyi on Tuesday in Abuja, alleged that the decision was to perfect rigging fomular for the ruling All Progressives (APC).

He alleged that the INEC decision was also a deliberate plan to kill means of gathering evidence against rigging arrangements.

He advised voters not to sell their Permanent Voter Cards but use them judiciously to vote in all elections in 2019.

In the meantime, Oyo State Government has shut down major business outfits that are defaulting in the payment of taxes.

Among the companies shut down today is Obasanjo Farms located at Oluyole Industrial Estate, Ibadan, which is owned by former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Also affected are banks, MRS oil, Black Horse, Heinemann Educational Books, Lister Flour Mills, University Press Limited, Evans Brother, Brooking House, Group Medical hospital, Butterfield bakery, Chicken Republic and Rasmed Publicity.

Some of the affected companies are located at Dugbe, Eleyele, Podo, Challenge, Onireke areas of Ibadan.

The exercise coordinated by the Oyo State Board of Internal Revenue, OYBIR, is being carried out by the combined task force team of the Oyo State Inter-ministerial Enforcement Unit.

Speaking on the exercise, OYBIR Chairman, Mr. Bicci Alli pointed out that the exercise became inevitable because of the failure of the affected companies to comply with the state tax laws after given the opportunities to do so. He appealed to the affected companies to do the needful so as to have their businesses back on track

According to him, “the exercise we carried out today is not something new and not outside the law. It is within the law. We went to restrain some corporate organizations that failed to pay what is due to Oyo state government after giving due notices, demand notices and even public notices to that effect and they failed to pay. So we went to those places to distain them from having access to their premises and it’s going to be a continuous exercise, all through the week and even next week. What they are guilty of is the payment of the environmental development levy. Some of them owe about two years. We wrote to them and gave them notices to pay, they refused to pay. It was as a result of their failure to pay that we now embarked on the needful. But it’s so sad that not until we have to take this step against the firms that they are now actually coming out to pay”.

He concluded, “Government is not interested in disrupting the business of these corporate organizations, the business of government is to create an enabling environment for business to thrive which Oyo state government has done tremendously well in the last few years and that’s why you see businesses springing up on daily basis in Oyo state. The government cannot disrupt their businesses unless where it is absolutely necessary.

The focus now is that we will collect every kobo that people owe the state government, we did publication on August 13, in two widely read newspapers, drawing the attention of corporate organizations and individual residents of Oyo state to pay all their taxes, dues and levies that they are supposed to pay to the state government within 14 days. But that was like a reminder, prior to that: we served demand notices in line with extant laws on corporate organizations, individuals to pay their taxes. Some of the taxes are due early January, February, March, depending on the position of the law. However, when they failed to pay, we did the reminder in line with the position of the law and we now did a public notice on 14th August, giving them 14 days to be able to pay. So, nobody could tell us that they were not informed”.

The Citizen

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Maritime First