By OKEY NDIRIBE & Ikenna Asomba
Awka—There was apprehension in Anambra State, yesterday, over the conduct of the November 16 governorship election following the non-display of the voters’ register by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, less than 30 days to the polls contrary to the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
The 30-day statutory requirement ended yesterday.
The amended Electoral Act 2010 stipulates that INEC must display the voters list not later than 30 days before the conduct of any election it is statutorily empowered to organise.
The legal provision for display of the voters register a month before any election was designed to facilitate the process of claims and objections which is also an integral aspect of the registration exercise.
According to the Act, voters’ registers must be displayed in every polling unit, at least 30 days before the polls to enable would be voters check if their names were correctly spelt and written or even included.
Vanguard sources indicate that the display of register which is one of the indices for a free and fair election was yet to be carried out.
However, INEC said in Abuja that the public display of the list of registered voters in the state was expected to have begun yesterday.
Although, neither Mr. Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to the chairman of the commission, Professor Attahiru Jega nor the acting director of public affairs, Mr. Nick Dazang could be reached on phone for comments. But an authoritative source at the commission’s headquarters who spoke on condition of anonymity said the display of the voters list was expected to have been in progress at Awka, the state capital.
Those raising concerns over non-display of voters’ registers told Vanguard that similar problems were encountered by voters in 2010 when many eligible voters could not find their names on the register because many foreign and alien names displaced theirs on the register.
A resident of Onitsha, Mr. Bonaventure Okeke, who spoke on the issue said that most non-indigenes in Anambra State, especially Hausa, Yoruba and other non-Igbo speaking people could not vote in the 2010 governorship election due to alleged distortion of the voters register, expressing concern that the same problem was rearing its ugly head again.
Okeke said: ’’We suspect foul play in this matter because it is certain that certain officials of the electoral body may have been compromised by some people in the state to distort the voters’ register in order to disenfranchise many people, especially Hausa and Yoruba and even non-Igbo residents who registered to vote.
“This was how many people, who registered for the elections in Anambra in 2010, could not find their names on the voters’ register on election day,” Okeke added.
A business man, Mr Anozie Okoye, who seethed with anger over the development, condemned the failure of INEC to ensure that nobody was ‘’disenfranchised.’’
He warned: “Thousands of these Yoruba and Hausas and other non-natives live and do their businesses here. These peace-loving Nigerians should not be stopped from voting. Stopping them will be very, very bad.”