BREAKING: Protests, late arrival of INEC officials and electoral materials mar take-off of Presidential, National Assembly elections

Posted by News Express | 23 February 2019 | 2,173 times

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•INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu

Late or non-arrival of electoral materials, last-minute replacement of the names of ad-hoc staff and protests have marred the start of the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections in several parts of the country.

Whereas the exercise took off smoothly in places such as President Muammadu Buhari’s Katsina State, reports from several other parts of the country indicated otherwise.

One common complaint was that neither officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) nor electoral materials were on ground as at 8am when simultaneous accreditation and voting was scheduled to start.

In Lagos, a seasoned journalist and communications expert, Muyiwa Akintunde, wrote in a WhatsApp group: “8:40am. 3 polling units around my residence in Sogunle/Alasia ward of Oshodi/Isolo LGA of Lagos State. No sight of INEC officials yet.”

Similarly complaints came from other parts of the state, including Ikeja, Badagry and Lagos Island.  

From outside Lagos, similar reports came from Anambra, Abia Enugu and Bayelsa states, as well as in southern Kaduna.

A News Express Special Correspondent in Anambra State reported that no INEC officials or materials had been sighted in Ogbaru and environs as at 9:30 a.m. “At Fegge, where I am supposed to vote, the card reader is not functioning. People are gathered to vote but cannot do so,” he said.

The Special Correspondent reported protests elsewhere in the state by National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members registered as INEC ad-hoc staff. “They arrived for work, only to find that their names have been replaced. Soldiers, Police and DSS operatives have calmed the situation,” he said.

Similar reports came from across the border in Imo State.

From Enugu to Abia, it was the same complaints of absence of INEC officials and no electoral materials such as in Delta School, Queens and Trans Ekulu – all in Enugu – and

in parts of the Abia commercial nerve centre, Aba.

In Bayelsa, voters in some polling units in Yenagoa, the state capital, were awaiting the arrival of INEC officials and election materials as at 9 am.

At Polling Unit 16, Atissa 1, some 50 voters were seen checking their names on the voters’ register pasted on the wall.

A policeman deployed to the unit said that an INEC official had earlier called to assure him that they were on their way with the materials.

At St Mathias, Amarata, no INEC Official was seen while hundreds of voters were waiting.

Policemen were however seen at all the polling units visited while armed soldiers mounted security checkpoints at the major roads allowing only vehicles on election duties to pass.

Mr. Yarin-Ama Demebo, a physically challenged domestic election observer with Hope and Justice observer group, said that late arrival of materials was noticed while material arrived in a few units.

“I wheeled myself from my house at INEC road in Yenagoa and I saw just few units where materials arrived before 9 am, delay in arrival of materials is widespread,” he said.

The election, however, seems to have taken off smoothly in many parts of the North. In Katsina, the exercise took off promptly in Daura and President Buhari was among the early voters.

In Adamawa State, Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) voted in Jimeta minutes past 10am.

Source: News Express

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