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Why we went ahead with Anambra polls, by INEC

A Party agent registering his presence before commencement of polls at Amatutu village, Agulu.

Today’s elections may not have held at all. A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday gave judgment in a suit  filed by the Action Congress, AC, on the composition of the board of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The trial judge, Justice Muhammed Liman said:
“On a very sad note, despite the fact that INEC consist the most important and indispensable bedrock on which our democratic institutions are built and that its functions are central to the smooth evolution of our political structure, it is not an understatement to say that without a functional INEC, no election into any political office will be possible.  Then, how come that in the eleventh year of the nation’s journey into constitutional governance, we do not have an electoral body with its full complement of members”?

Immediately after the judgment, politicians and indeed staff of INEC expressed fears that the election of Saturday  might  not take place. It did.

Source close to  INEC said the electoral would  go ahead is because no court papers had been served on the commission   at the close of work last Friday.

Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that had the court papers been served on the commission, the latter might have been in a tight situation as it would have been perceived as going against a court decision if it had had to go ahead with yesterday’s election.

“But since we have not been served the court decision and as you know work has closed for today, we would go ahead with the election tomorrow”, the top INEC official told Sunday Vanguard last Friday.

Voters waiting to cast their votes at Amatutu Ward 2 Agulu, Aniocha LGA

Delay in arrival of voting materials
Saturday ’s  election  was almost marred by the late arrival of materials in virtually every local governments of the state. In fact, there was nowhere in the entire Anambra State where voting commenced earlier than 10:20am.

Sunday Vanguard was informed that there were two major reasons for the delay in the delivery of voting materials Saturday.

First was the instruction as agreed to between INEC and the security agencies, specifically the police in this instance, that no voting materials should leave any distribution centre without a Police escort.

The second  which became inextricably tied to the first, had to do with the payment of the allowances of men and officers of the Police Force.

Sunday  Vanguard was told that some of the men of the Force were yet to receive their approved allowances for election duties as at early Saturday morning.

It was this non-payment of allowances,  that made most of the officers refuse to escort voting materials to designated polling stations.

According to Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, materials had left the state office of INEC since Friday for easy distribution form local government offices of the commission.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that INEC Chairman had to get in touch with DIG John Ahmadu who immediately gave strict instructions.

At a point,  the REC was “to be instructed to go on air and explain that the materials were on their way and that the cause of the hitch had been taken care of”.

Commenting on the election, Senator Joy Emodi  commended  INEC boss, Prof. Maurice Iwu  for the able way he organized the polls. She said  it showed  that Iwu could do much better if  he is given   a free hand to conduct election.

Voting materials just arrived Aguta civic center, which is expected to take care of all the polling units around Prof. Soludo’s county home at about 11.30am.

The late arrival prevented PDP candidate from going to cast his vote. Inside his large compound  were white chairs, with some of his supporters seated.

There  was a large turn out of voters in Anaocha LG, Peter Obi base but many voters could not find their names in the register. There  was a serious mix up in the register. Voting started at 11.50am at ward 19 opposite Obi’s house. Dora Akunyili voted at ward 3 and  told reporters that everything must be done to ensure  a  free and fair election. She said Nigeria  could  not tell the world that it  was re-branding when  it could not  conduct simple governorship election.

Voting started about 12:55pm  with  the first voter at ward 13, unit in Aguta LGA, where Soludo  was expected to cast his vote. Anxious voters had  been queuing under the hot sun waiting for materials.

Soludo arrived in a brown Toyota Sequia Jeep with  number plate  CV FST. He wore a  native attire and a red cap at about 1:00pm and voted at about 1:05pm.

Soludo voted at Isuofia ward 1 at 1pm. He  complained that many of his supporters could not find their names on the register, and that  he got reports of ballot box snatching and pockets of violence in some LGA which, He said  it is too early to comment on whether the election  was free and fair. He said the question of whether INEC should extend voting time because of late start should be directed to INEC and not him.

Soludo said INEC was aware of the problems in the voters register and hoped  those with genuine voter’s cards would be allowed to vote.

As at 3:10pm, Ojukwu  was yet to vote at  Nnewi.

Andy Uba of Labour party voted around 1:00pm at Uga ward 1, Aguta LGA. But his wife Oby, mother, elder brother Senator Ugochukwu Uba and his wife were disenfranchised because they could not find their names in the register. Senator Andy Uba complained bitterly to reporters, “at this centre alone called Oru Agency where we have six  polling booths only two are voting with over 1000 voters disenfranchised including myself. More embarrassing is the absence of policemen here. From Ekwulobia no policemen could be seen. The police said they deployed 23000 men but we can’t see any policemen here. Our demand is that let the people be allowed to vote.

He alleged that there is a deliberate plan to disenfranchise our people. I have never seen this kind of election in my life”. Uba lamented.

In Onitsha South, Senator Joy Emodi voted at 12:00pm and said the exercise was orderly.
Voting did not start on time at  Alor (Ngige’s town). Reason: police did not  want to work because of non payment of allowance.

At 11:24am, materials arrived the Civic Centre in Soludo’s town.
Low turn-out in Agulu, Aguta LGA. Some  voters  expressed  fear about heavy security presence. Massive turn-out in Oyi LGA.

At 12:28pm, materials were yet to arrive in Ifitedunu, Dunukofia LGA.

According to unconfirmed reports, there were sporadic shooting in Osumenyi (Nicholas Ukachukwu’s town) in Nnewi LGA.

At Nri town where Ekwunife voted, ballot boxes were snatched. Policemen were not in sight.
From Ihiala, voters were still waiting for INEC officials as at 11:00am. Party agents  said  some people were sent to the local government head quarters to collect   materials, but at nearby Ekwusigo LGA, voting had already started and the exercise was orderly.

In Obosi, residents said that voting did not take place. They alleged that election materials were moved to the home of top FG officials, where they claimed thump-printing took place.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.