By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU—IGBO umbrella body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has raised the alarm that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is deliberately disenfranchising the people of the South-East zone by not giving them access to the ongoing continuous voter registration.
The group also alleged that there is obvious discrimination against its people in the northern parts of Nigeria in the course of the exercise.
President General of the apex Igbo organisation, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who made the allegations insisted that it was not just mere talk, but facts that emerged out of investigation.
Nwodo spoke in Enugu, yesterday, when the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Enugu State, Mr Emeka Ononamadu, paid him courtesy visit.
He emphatically said that virtually all the states in the South-East zone have shortage of registration materials in the Continuous Voter Registration exercise going on.
Nwodo said he visited many of the registration centres in the zone before concluding that the South East is being shortchanged in the exercise.
He said: “I am of the conclusion that INEC has deliberately denied this area of registration materials in order to ensure that we are under registered. I say this not because I am the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo but as a lawyer who respects evidence.
“Let me use my home as example. I come from Ukehe in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area. Last week, I went home to check what was going on, but my local government area had the presence of INEC in less than three polling units. In my ward, INEC was present in only one polling unit in my village.
“Although the INEC staff was very hardworking, the maximum registration they can achieve in a day was 48 people and there were twice the number waiting who were not registered. My projection is that in two days, they were able to register 96 voters against over 500.”
Ready to help INEC with registration
Nwodo said Ohanaeze was prepared to give logistics to INEC to register people who turn out for the exercise, but lamented that the INEC was shortchanging the Igbo.
“If you want us to pay to hire more machines, we will are ready to do so. If you want us to pay for staff that you may not have enough to deploy to our places, we are prepared to raise money from Igbos,” he said.
Nwodo equally lamented that while Igbos are being disenfranchised in the South East; over 11.6 million Igbos in Northern Nigeria are equally being discriminated from registration of voters card which he said is an inalienable constitutional right of all Nigerians.
Marginalised in the north
“Our people in the North told me that in the queues, the indigenes are treated before them. And I like to use this opportunity of your presence here to ask that you send this message to your headquarters. This kind of discrimination of Igbos in the registration is not good and healthy for our national polity.”
Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ononamadu, said the visit was part of its outreach to critical stakeholders in election process which Ohanaeze Ndigbo is one of the major stakeholders.
Ononamadu said since his assumption, he had gone round the seventeen local government areas of Enugu state where activated and re-activated the mechanism of continuous voter registration, noting however that Enugu state is not doing badly in the registration when compared to some states.