The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave the warning at the swearing-in of the new Secretary to the commission, Mrs Rose Oriaran-Anthony on Friday in Abuja.

Yakubu said that all officials of the commission must remain neutral in the discharge of their duties.

“As we approach the 2019 general elections, the commission will pay attention to the conduct of our officials from the headquarters to the states and Local government areas.

“We will not tolerate the complicity of staff with political actors or their agents to subvert the electoral process. All officials of the commission must remain neutral in the discharge of their duties and committed to protecting the sanctity of the process.”

Yakubu added that the Commission had been inundated by applications from several groups within the country requesting to be accredited as observers for 2019 elections, including support groups of candidates contesting in the elections.

This according to him was “unacceptable”, adding that observers are neutral groups interested only in the process and not agents of political parties, candidates or campaign organisations.

“The purpose of accrediting observers for elections is a noble one intended to increase the transparency and openness of the process. The reports of observers also serve as a useful feedback mechanism for strengthening our processes and procedures.

“It is therefore counter-productive for such an important process to become an all-comers business.

“Going forward, the Commission has revised the guidelines for the accreditation of observers. Interested organisations are required to apply to the Commission. Details will be published this weekend and early next week in national newspapers and on the Commission’s website.

“We shall critically scrutinise all applications from organisations interested in election observation and only those that meet the rigorous criteria will be accredited.”

Yakubu congratulated Oriaran-Anthony on her appointment in just 56 days to the 2019 general elections, saying that the commission has confidence in her ability to bring her desk and field experiences to bear on her new responsibility.

In her remarks, Oriaran-Anthony commended the Commission for considering her worthy to serve as secretary.

She pledged to discharge her new duty with all sense of responsibility to improve service delivery of Nigerians.

“Working with my colleagues in their various capacities, we hope to bequeath a workforce that is professional, innovative, non-partisan and loyal; workforce that will work smarter and better motivated to deliver service to our spectrum of stakeholders.”