BY OSOLOKA NNAMDI in Awka•
As the governorship election approaches in Anambra State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied ownership of two-lorry load of sensitive materials allegedly intercepted by the police.
INEC in a press release signed by the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Nkwachukwu Orji stated that it was not aware of any missing sensitive materials, saying that the materials obviously do not belong to the commission as there are laid down processes of delivering sensitive materials.
National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) had in a press conference on Monday raised the alarm over the interception of two lorry loads of INEC sensitive materials in an undisclosed hotel in Awka by police officers in the state.
The State police commissioner, Mr Garba Umar while reacting to the allegation said it was not true that his men had intercepted materials belonging to INEC in any hotel in Awka and may apparently be another propaganda by politicians.
INEC REC also dismissed news of the recent arrest of some politicians with the state’s voters register, saying that the register found with the politicians were printed from the soft copies made available to political parties as required by the law.
“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 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 election from some individuals in a hotel in Awka, Anambra State on 6 November 2017.
“The Commission wishes to state that it is not aware of any missing sensitive election materials and has not received any official report in that regard.
“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 by politicians, INEC said, “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 Commission reiterated its readiness to conduct credible election, while reassuring the public that it will continue to be transparent in its processes.
It appealed to all stakeholders to confirm their information before going to the press in order not to undermine the peace that has so far prevailed in Anambra State ahead of the Governorship election.
“The Commission also wishes to restate its determination and commitment to ensure that the 18 November Anambra State Governorship election is free, fair and credible, and solicits the cooperation of the people of the State in this regard.”