INEC Admits to Flaws in Anambra Guber Polls
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Sunday confirmed that the governorship election in Anambra State, which ran into a second day yesterday, was flawed.
The commission however vowed to ensure the prosecution of the electoral official in Idemili North Local Government Area who “messed up” the process by allegedly colluding with some unnamed persons to sabotage the election.
Nevertheless, the commission ruled out cancellation of the election results, as being advocated by some political parties and politicians.
INEC National Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, blamed the complaints of irregularities on the conduct of the governorship poll on sabotage and subversion of the electoral process by the electoral officer.
According to him, contrary to the calls for the cancellation of the election results, the full results will be released after the outcome of the rescheduled election in Obosi Ward 7 that comprises 65 polling units.
Jega, in an interview with the African Independent Television (AIT) monitored in Onitsha, said: “The electoral officer of Idemili North connived with outside interests to subvert an electoral process. They used INEC staff to subvert the electoral process. The electoral officer in Idemili North messed up the process.”
He explained that the commission adopted a decentralised process of distributing election materials and that it was programmed in such a way that all election materials would have reached their respective destinations at least by 9 pm on Friday, a day before the election day.
He said the errant electoral official had been arrested and handed over to the police for investigation, adding that the commission will follow up with the police to ensure his prosecution.
He accused the electoral official of deliberately “messing up” the polling in the Idemili North for obvious reason by issuing the wrong electoral documents and in some cases without the result sheets.
He said: “For hours, we could not reach the electoral officer. We knew that something was wrong. We felt that this was an act of sabotage and subversion of the electoral process, so we handed him over to the police for investigation.
“We recognised that by faults of our own INEC staff, we have been sabotaged. He did what he did with interested outsiders and inducement. The electoral process was subverted.
“We are still investigating the electoral officer in Idemili North. We are going to investigate and prosecute the electoral officer. We have a strong suspicion that he connived with outsiders to subvert the electoral process.”
On the complaints that the names of some of the voters were missing, the INEC chairman said: “There was a production mistake that added two years to all the ages of the voters.
“It was an honest mistake and we had to withdraw the voters’ list and when the register was later sent back to the parties and it was displayed, none of the political parties complained that what INEC gave them was different from what it was supposed to be.
“But let me say that if the people are prepared to subvert the process, anything can happen.”
He attributed most of the complaints of missing names in the voters’ register to the fact that the commission had withdrawn the “addendum register”.
He said INEC displayed the Continuous Voters’ Register (CVR) in August before the governorship election and it was the duty of the voters to cross check their names when the voters’ register was displayed and complain, if the need arose.
He described the addendum register used by INEC in the past as a major source of fraud at elections.
On why the commission did not remove the Resident Electoral Commission (REC) in Anambra State, Professor Chukwuemeka Onukogu, as demanded by some stakeholders, Jega said that did not happen because “there were no complaints against the REC”.
He said all the results had been collated and would be released after the conclusion of the Obosi Ward 7 rescheduled election.
He however confirmed receipt of a two-page complaint that was emailed to him by one of the political parties, but said: “There is no evidence to support the allegations of electoral malpractices. You don’t expect INEC to cancel the election based on a two-page petition without any evidence.”
Jega, who responded to the allegation that he had lost control in INEC and therefore should resign, said: “ I am still the chairman of INEC.”
In the rescheduled Obosi poll, however, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that there was a low turnout of voters in the area yesterday.
Some of the polling stations recorded a turnout of a few persons who came out after church service to cast their votes.
Accreditation commenced in most places between 11 am and noon to pave the way for people who went to church to participate.
In Obodu Urowulu, Central School, Umuata and Ire polling units, some of the voters queued for accreditation and later voted while many others stayed away from the process.
Mr Chuma Okeke, a voter, said he came to exercise his franchise but regretted the development that led to the rescheduling of the election in the area.
Okeke advised INEC to ensure that such misnomers do not occur in subsequent elections in the country.
Another Obosi resident, Mrs. Nkiru Anibugwo, said she would not be part of the process because she had lost interest in the exercise considering the action of INEC on Saturday.
Miss Chibuzo Chukwujekwe, the presiding officer in Amaoliora Square, Obosi, said the voters came out in trickles and hoped that before the end of the exercise, there would be an improvement.
APGA, PPA, UPP and LP returning officers were present at all the polling units while APC, PDP and AD agents were absent.
INEC rescheduled the election in the area following late arrival of election materials on Saturday.