INEC staff absence during distribution of voting materials’ stirs controversy

C.OC Onah

The Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner REC, Dr Queen Elizabeth Agwu and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC were absent on Thursday during the distribution of electoral materials to 22 Local Government Areas of the State ahead of Saturday February 25, 2023 general elections.

ELECTORAL MATERIALS AWAITING DELIVERY IN ANAMBRA STATE

No reason has been given why officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were allegedly been proactive or lethargic in the discharge of their duties.

But TheNewspad exclusively gathered that there was tension at Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, annex in Awka — venue of the exercise, recorded the presence of security agents, journalists and chairmen of the various political parties fielding Candidates in the polls.

Trouble started when journalists, party chairmen and other observers who came to observe to the arrival and distribution of voting materials arrived the venue at about 4.30pm

It was learnt in the absence of the REC and other senior staff of the Commission, some young men emerged from no where and began to load electoral materials into trucks for onward movement to various destinations.

Addressing journalists on the unfolding developments, some chairmen of the political parties that are fielding Candidates in the elections around 8p.m at the CBN, unanimously expressed disappointment over the absence of INEC staff at the CBN annex.

They decried the poor outing was devoid of the regular Media briefings in the past, which afford journalists and stakeholders the opportunity to know the serial Numbers of those materials distributed and their location as well as security arrangements.

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Speaking to journalists the State, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Ndubisi Nwobu, lamented that  INEC did not give them the details of serial number of the material before loading leaving the CBN annex before taken same to their locations.

The party agents  should know the details of the voting materials they are receiving in their Local government Council so that they can communicate their party officials to vet the electoral materials when they arrive.

“We want to believe that the materials will not leave this night. We are hoping that by tomorrow morning, INEC will avail them of the serial number of the materials before leaving CBN”.

“We are hoping that tomorrow morning before the materials leave CBN, INEC officials will avail us with the serial numbers to various Local Government Councils to ascertain when there is any infraction before they are delivered to their respective destinations”, Ndubisi said.

On his part, the State Chairman of Young Progressives Party, YPP, Prince Moses Obi, said they were surprised that the INEC could ignore them in the way and man er they have done.

“We are here to inspect the arrival and the leaving of INEC voting materials from the CBN for the Saturday elections.

We were also scheduled to hold a meeting with REC but she is no where to be found. I came here around 9a.m and up till now (8pm.), the REC and other senior officials are nowhere to be seen. I am sure this is in good faith”, he said.

Obi said that they are waiting to see what happens, noting that it would be wise for the INEC to brief them on the details of the materials serial numbers before the departure.

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“I am not happy, they said we should come here by 9a m on Thursday, but till now (8.p.m, they (INEC staff) have not been able to avail us of the details.

“Nobody has been able tell us anything. The REC even told us that after the 9am, she  will meet with the party chairmen.

“We learnt she came around 5pm. We hope to see the details of  materials in the morning before leaving CBN” he said.

In the same vain journalists who were at the distribution center was not spared. The media practitioners were there to find out how prepared INEC is to conduct election in the insecurity prone areas in the State, but was rebuffed.

The REC had promised to speak to  the Media after declining to comment on phone earlier.

But she did not show up even as she claimed to be within the CBN premises. She also became evasive upon sighting journalists who stormed the CBN annex on Thursday.
 
As at the time of filing this report, a significant number of journalists who were not given accreditation tags for coverage, were confused. The Commission was not forthcoming with any explanation for the setback.

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