By OKEY NDIRIBE
ABUJA—As the November 16 governorship elections in Anambra State draws nearer, the stakeholders in the electoral process have agreed to relocate all polling units from shrines, thick forests and homes of prominent politicians in the state.
This was confirmed, yesterday, in Abuja by the Acting Chairman of Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC, Mr. Sylvester Okonkwo, while speaking to news men during an interactive session with officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Abuja.
Okonkwo stated that such polling units existed at Onitsha North, Ogbaru and Oyi Local Government Areas of the state, adding that results from such polling units located in inaccessible places were usually used to produce fake results during elections.
According to him, ANSIEC had earlier alerted INEC on the matter and had begun the process of relocating such illegal polling units to areas where they would be accessible to people during elections.
His words: “We observed that about six polling units were set up at the bank of a river in Ontisha North Local Government Area. We insisted that these polling units must be relocated to the prisons quarters for genuine use. Also at Ogbaru Local Government, at Ogbo Efere Market to be precise, there were six polling units there, which INEC established to help traders to register, but we found out that on election days, even when those markets were locked up for the elections, we still have votes from such places. We do not know who votes in a closed market. So we have decided that those six polling units will be relocated outside the market. “
Apart from this, Okonkwo further said that there is an invicible polling unit in Ogbaru, which people used to call Festac.
He said: “We have looked around and there is no Festac in Anamabra State. We found out that this polling unit was right inside the compound of one political heavy weight in the area. We have brought the polling unit out to the town. Also there is another one in Oyi Local Government Area. The place is Nteje, where a polling unit was located inside a thick forest, almost two kilometres from the road, where nobody lives.
”I have alerted the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega and he has agreed that we move all these illegal polling units out of their locations.”
Okonkwo’s Rivers State counterpart, Mrs. Dakoro also said she had uncovered some polling units located in shrines and other hidden places in the state.
However, in a communique’ the Chairman of INEC, Professor Jega and the Chairman of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions, FOSIECON, Justice A.F. Adesina after the meeting, both parties resolved as follows, ‘’the need for greater synergy between INEC and SIECs, especially at the state and local government levels, in the implementation of the Continuous Voter Registration exercise and subsequent use of permanent voters’ cards for elections.”
The meeting then commended INEC for bringing innovations to the electoral process as well as improving the integrity of the electoral system.