…Why we are starting late, Delta REC
By Festus Ahon
ASABA-THE ongoing presidential and National Assembly elections, in parts of Asaba and its environs is being marred by late arrival of materials.
Our correspondent who is monitoring the exercise in area, reports that the materials were still being sorted out at Uzoigwe Primary school and Ahaba primary school.
However, there is a large turnout of voters in the areas visited. Some voters spoke to newsmen, expressed anxiety over the delay in the commencement of the exercise.
There was large turnout of voters at Uzoigwe Primary School,
Ward 09 of Oshimili South Local government area, but officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC were still sorting materials for distribution to units at about 9am.
Commercial buses however stationed at the school waiting to take materials to the polling units. A voter who identified herself as Ngozi Okolotu, said materials arrived the ward at about 3.00am but INEC officials failed to commence sorting and distribution immediately.
Okolotu said; “Now look at what we have on our hands, people are waiting to exercise their franchise yet INEC is not ready. It is almost 9:am. We don’t know if this is a ploy to stagger the election”.
Two Supervising Officers at the ward, Stella Marris Ogbemuo and Ifeoma Nekua who spoke separately however assured that the exercise would go on smoothly, saying that voting will start as soon as possible.
At Asaba Primary School, ward 04, materials were being moved to units under the ward when our correspondent visited at few minutes past 9am.
Ad-hoc staff of INEC mostly corps members were seen setting up their respective cubicles in preparation for the voting.
Meanwhile, former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr Peter Onwusanya has accused soldiers of turning eligible voters using their personal cars back home.
Onwusanya spoke at his unit in Niger Mixed Secondary School, Asaba where materials were just arriving at 9:20am, said : “As you can see, the materials are just coming in, and it is very late considering the time they gave us.
“But my concern now is that soldiers are turning voters back even when they present PVCs. Our local government is peculiar because people are coming from far flung areas to their polling units. These set of voters cannot easily access their units while trekking. And we had agreed at the security council meeting that people with PVC should be allowed to go and vote and that is not what we are experiencing”.
The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Cyril Omorogbe explained why there is delay in the commencement of the voting exercise in Asaba, the state capital.
Omorogbe who spoke to newsmen in his office, said the original results sheets arrived the state office of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at 12 midnight, adding that theresult sheets were being moved to the various areas at dawn.
On allegation of soldiers turning back voters, he said; “I will contact the security agencies to allow people with PVCs to access their voting points, adding that voters who are in their voting centres by 2pm will be allowed to vote.
He held that the commission was prepared to deliver free and fair election.