Int’l observers decry alleged ballot snatching in Akwa Ibom


FILE PHOTO: Ballot snatching

FILE PHOTO: Ballot snatching

The International Election Observers, Pan African Women (PAN) Projects that monitored the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections in Akwa Ibom on Saturday, decried have alleged snatching of ballot boxes in polling units across the state.

Ms Mphoentie Keitseng, the Publicity Secretary of PAN Projects, made the remarks during an interactive session with newsmen in Uyo on Wednesday.

“There were lots of ballot box snatching in lots of polling units and thump printing was ongoing at the opposition party office in the state.

“Our observers reported ballot boxes being snatched and carted away by hoodlums after interaction with various party agents at the unit 12 ward 2 in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area (LGA).

“The result sheets were missing in Ewang in Mbo LGA of the state,’’ she said.

Keitseng said there was the absence of materials at Udung Uko LGA ward 4, Convent primary school, adding that no election was carried out as at 2:31 p.m. on Feb 23.

She lamented insufficient security personnel in some polling units during the elections.

“Violence almost led to the loss of lives as there were no security agents present at Unit 12 ward 6, Obio Offot, Uyo and Ibesikpo area.

“The collation of materials at some collation centres was characterised by thuggery and intimidation of Electoral Officers, ad hoc staff and corps members by security personnel.

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“In Essien Udom, accredited observers were stopped by the thugs and violently barred from accessing collation centre,” she said.

“There was late arrival of materials during the elections in Uyo and some LGAs in the state.

“Many returning officers were attacked by thugs at various collation centres in Akwa Ibom because officers refuse to militate result sheets in favour of certain candidate that truly lost the election,’’ Keitseng said.

She commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a free, fair and transparent process of the elections.

Reacting to the allegations, Mr Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom, said the commission would cancel polls where ballot boxes were snatched in the state.

Igini had cancelled results of the Saturday’s Presidential elections and National Assembly elections in Udung Uko Local Government Area and some polling units in the state.

The Akwa Ibom REC said that Udung Uko area was cancelled due to attack on collation officer for the area and some corps members in the area.

Sen. Ita Enang, the Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Senate matters, has denied allegations that he hijacked ballot boxes in Unit 12 ward 2 in Ibiono Ibom in the state.