16th May, 2012
Preparations for the14 July, 2012 governorship election in Edo State was on Wednesday suffered a setback as participating political parties at an interactive meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), passed a vote of no confidence on the electoral body.
All representatives of the political parties who spoke at the stakeholders’ meeting with INEC in Benin were unanimous in condemning the voters’ registration update and preparation for the election.
INEC Head of ICT in Abuja, Engr. Chidi Nwafor, who was earlier accused by the Edo State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, of conniving with another staff of the commission in Benin to allegedly manipulate the voters’ register in favour of the PDP, set the tone of discussion at the meeting.
He explained that 450 DDC machines had been made available in the state out which 384 DDC machines would be deployed for updating voters’ register which was expected to commence on Tuesday.
Nwafor also explained that two DDC machines would be deployed to each of the 192 Wards in the state, saying that National Youth Corps members would be recruited to carry out the exercise and the election in the state even as he stressed that INEC was determined to be transparent in the election.
In his reaction, PDP stalwart in the state, Roland Owie who spoke for his party, objected to the use of Corps members, saying that they would not be fair.
In his speech, a member of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie of the ACN expressed worry over the provision of 450 DDC machines to carry out the registration of only 5 percent of voters in the state, saying that the party has no confidence in INEC as there was no security arrangement to guarantee that the machines would not be used for secret voters’ registration.
He also condemned the use of corps members, saying that there was crisis of confidence in the exercise in the state as according to him, some people were allegedly secretly registered.
In his speech, the southsouth leader of the ACN, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu pointedly alleged that some people have been secretly registered by the PDP across the state, revealing that his party had such registration on video tapes.
The Edo state chairman of the ACN, Thomas Okosun in his contribution said his party, having found an INEC official with a DDC Machine outside, has no confidence in the electoral body’s ability to conduct the election.
Okosun, who following the disclosure by INEC National Commissioner, Dr. Ishmael Igbani that a staff of the commission in the Benin office accused by the ACN of allegedly manipulating the voters’ register has been removed, wondered why Engr. Chidi Nwafor, Head of ICT, Abuja INEC Headquarters, also accused of the same offence was left to continue his duties.
Following Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s allegation that PDP was secretly registering voters, Senator Owie reacted and said his party had no hand in such registration, just as Gen. Godwin Abbe (retd) called for tight security to guarantee free and fair election in the state.
Earlier, Dr. Ishmael Igbani, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Edo, Delta and Bayelsa announced the removal from office of a female staff; Head of the Benin INEC ICT Unit following allegations against her that she attempted to manipulate voters’ register.=
While assuring that INEC was determine to carry out free and fair election in the state, the commissioner explained that like what obtained in other states where similar elections had held, INEC would adopt the same procedures.
By Jethro Ibileke