Today’s elections may not have held at all. A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday gave judgment in a suitÂ 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:
â€œOn 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.Â Then, how come that in the eleventh year of the nationâ€™s journey into constitutional governance, we do not have an electoral body with its full complement of membersâ€?
Immediately after the judgment, politicians and indeed staff of INEC expressed fears that the election of SaturdayÂ mightÂ not take place. It did.
Source close toÂ INEC said the electoral wouldÂ go ahead is because no court papers had been served on the commissionÂ Â 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 yesterdayâ€™s election.
â€œBut 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 tomorrowâ€, the top INEC official told Sunday Vanguard last Friday.
Delay in arrival of voting materials
Saturday â€™sÂ electionÂ 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 secondÂ which became inextricably tied to the first, had to do with the payment of the allowances of men and officers of the Police Force.
SundayÂ 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,Â 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,Â the REC was â€œto 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 ofâ€.
Commenting on the election, Senator Joy EmodiÂ commendedÂ INEC boss, Prof. Maurice IwuÂ for the able way he organized the polls. She saidÂ it showedÂ that Iwu could do much better ifÂ he is givenÂ Â 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. Soludoâ€™s county home at about 11.30am.
ThereÂ was a large turn out of voters in Anaocha LG, Peter Obi base but many voters could not find their names in the register. ThereÂ was a serious mix up in the register. Voting started at 11.50am at ward 19 opposite Obiâ€™s house. Dora Akunyili voted at ward 3 andÂ told reporters that everything must be done to ensureÂ aÂ free and fair election. She said NigeriaÂ couldÂ not tell the world that itÂ was re-branding whenÂ it could notÂ conduct simple governorship election.
Voting started about 12:55pmÂ withÂ the first voter at ward 13, unit in Aguta LGA, where SoludoÂ was expected to cast his vote. Anxious voters hadÂ been queuing under the hot sun waiting for materials.
Soludo arrived in a brown Toyota Sequia Jeep withÂ number plateÂ CV FST. He wore aÂ native attire and a red cap at about 1:00pm and voted at about 1:05pm.
Soludo voted at Isuofia ward 1 at 1pm. HeÂ complained that many of his supporters could not find their names on the register, and thatÂ he got reports of ballot box snatching and pockets of violence in some LGA which, He saidÂ it is too early to comment on whether the electionÂ 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 hopedÂ those with genuine voterâ€™s cards would be allowed to vote.
As at 3:10pm, OjukwuÂ was yet to vote atÂ 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, â€œat this centre alone called Oru Agency where we have sixÂ 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 canâ€™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 lifeâ€. Uba lamented.
In Onitsha South, Senator Joy Emodi voted at 12:00pm and said the exercise was orderly.
Voting did not start on time atÂ Alor (Ngigeâ€™s town). Reason: police did notÂ want to work because of non payment of allowance.
At 11:24am, materials arrived the Civic Centre in Soludoâ€™s town.
Low turn-out in Agulu, Aguta LGA. SomeÂ votersÂ expressedÂ 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 Ukachukwuâ€™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 agentsÂ saidÂ some people were sent to the local government head quarters to collectÂ Â 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.