From: Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wedneday, dismissed reports that sensitive materials meant for the November 18 Governorship election in Anambra State were intercepted by the Police in a hotel, in Awka.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Oye had, on Monday, raised the alarm that the Police intercepted two lorry loads of INEC sensitive materials for next week election, adding that two persons were arrested in the process.
But the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Garba Baba Umar, swiftly reacted describing the information as false stressing that nothing like such happened.
However, in a statement, on Wednesday, by the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, the Commission stated categorically that none of its sensitive materials was missing and could not have been taken to a hotel as there were laid down process of moving such materials.
The statement said, “The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to publications in the media about statements allegedly made by the Chairman of one of the political parties that two lorry loads of sensitive materials meant for the 18 November Governorship election in Anambra State have been intercepted by the Police in an undisclosed hotel in Awka. It is also alleged that the Police arrested two persons in connection with the incident.
“It has equally come to the notice of the Commission that the Police recovered large quantities of what looked like the Register of Voters meant for the 18 November Governorship election in Anambra State from some individuals in a hotel in Awka, Anambra State on 6 November 2017.
“It is not clear to the Commission whether these two alleged incidents are related, but the Commission wishes to state that it is not aware of any missing sensitive election material and has not received any official report in that regard.
“However, the Commission wishes to point out in clear terms that it is not possible for sensitive materials meant for the Anambra State Governorship election to be delivered to a hotel room because there are laid down processes of delivery of sensitive election materials, which involve strict monitoring of the process by party agents, election observers, security agencies and the media. The Independent National Electoral Commission, therefore, states categorically that the materials allegedly found in a hotel room in Awka do not belong to the Commission.
“On the alleged printing of the Register of Voters, Section 20 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides that INEC shall publish the Register of Voters not later than 30 days before an election. To that effect, it is customary for the Commission to provide the Register to political parties presenting candidates for an election. This was done in a widely publicised event in Awka on 18 October 2017 during which all the parties present collected the electronic register. However, it is pertinent to note that the Register given to political parties by INEC does not have the same details as the one used for elections. Indeed, several fields and security features are not included in the Register given to political parties.
“The Commission has had the opportunity to compare the Register recovered by the Police and the one meant for the 18 November Anambra State Governorship election. It is clear on examination that what the Police recovered appears to have been printed from the electronic Register given to the political parties, and not the official Register of Voters for the Governorship election.”
The REC reassured the people of the Commission’s determination to continue to be transparent in its processes and appealed to all the stakeholders to confirm their information before going to the press in order not to undermine the peace that has so far prevailed in the state ahead of the governorship election.
He further restated determination and commitment of INEC to ensure that the November 18 election was free, fair and credible, urging the people to cooperate with it.