The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Abia State, Joseph Iloh, on Wednesday, said that the commission registered 1.85 million voters in the state.
Mr Iloh said this when members of the steering committee of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the state paid him a courtesy visit in Umuahia, the state capital.
He added that the number of registered voters in the state stood at 1.39 million as at July 2017 when he assumed office.
The commissioner said on assumption of office, he set a target to register at least two million voters before the 2019 general elections after being convinced that the state was under registered.
He added that after intense education and sensitisation of the citizenry on the need to register and get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) the commission recorded improved participation.
He explained that workers of the commission visited the 17 local government areas of the state repeatedly as part of the public education and enlightenment campaign.
Mr Iloh, who decried the alleged activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in discouraging the people of the Southeast from taking part in the electoral process, said “the activities of IPOB are injurious to national interest. The group should join the electoral process.”
The REC dismissed the speculation that some politicians went to INEC offices at the local government councils to illegally collect PVCs belonging to supporters of their opponents to disenfranchise them.
According to him, INEC has effective control of its personnel at the local government councils but that anybody who suspects that his PVC has been taken by a politician can apply for replacement.
He gave assurance that a new PVC would be issued to such persons if proved right, while the old card would be invalidated by the system.
Mr Iloh further said the commission had introduced new measures to help check rigging in 2019 polls and beyond.
He said people’s votes must count in the 2019 general elections, stressing that “with the way INEC is working, it will be difficult to rig elections in Nigeria.”
Chidi Nwosu, the Chairman of the SDP steering committee in the state, said the visit was meant to officially introduce the “rejuvenated SDP” in Abia to the REC.
Mr Nwosu commended the commission for sensitising residents on the need to register and have a PVC, saying that the initiative had yielded results.
He assured the commission that the party would conduct its activities in line with the dictates of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
He announced that the party would soon conduct its congresses to elect leaders at the ward, local and state levels.
The steering committee members also visited security agencies in the state, where they solicited their cooperation to ensure the conduct of hitch-free congresses.
The Commissioner of Police in Abia, Anthony Ogbizi, promised that the command would provide adequate security and enabling environment for peaceful conduct of the party’s congresses.
Mr Ogbizi, however, urged the party leadership, political office seekers and their supporters to shun acts capable of undermining public peace during the congresses and general elections. (NAN)