…as APGA alleges rigging plot
- No room for fraud, INEC assures
Less than a week to the conduct of Anambra State’s governorship election, political parties in the coming poll have resorted to last-minute voter inducement, in bids to outwit one another, The Point’s investigations have revealed.
Principal among items being distributed to prospective voters are clothes with the imprints of their respective candidates, and food items like measured tins of rice, garri and abacha, a native meal.
In some locations, sums ranging between N500 and N1,000 were also distributed at the ward level, strictly for registered voters.
Our correspondent found that these practices were prevalent in virtually all the wards of Awka South, Awka North and Agwata local government areas.
Party members and other supporters, it was observed, were asked to queue up and collect the freebies once their names were sighted in the photo-copied voter lists, to ensure that only prospective voters benefitted.
Speaking in Awka, the state’s capital, one of the party supporters, John Uzorchukwu, told our correspondent that “so far, I have collected N1,000 each from the three major parties, namely: PDP, APGA and APC, and one of them has also given me a quarter bag of rice. But I know where my vote is going.”
Also, some Onitsha traders, oil magnate, Dr Ifeanyi Uba; and a host of other influential individuals and groups at the weekend endorsed APGA’s Governor Willy Obiano for re-election, just as Uche Ekwunife, a former national lawmaker, her supporters, and other sundry groups have also endorsed the APC candidate, Dr Tony Nwoye; while the Northern Youths in Awka, led by Habib Usman, had, after their meeting in the state capital, similarly rallied behind Chief Godwin Ezeemo, the PPA candidate.
This is even as a plethora of individuals and groups, including the loyalists of former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, have endorsed the PDP candidate, Mr. Henry Oseloka Obaze.
ELECTION MATERIALS ‘HOARDING’ SAGA
Already, the tempo of politics and the desperation of contending parties to win in the election have reached a fever pitch, with the ruling APGA, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the police reacting to the news that about two persons were allegedly found with two lorry-loads of sensitive election materials and arrested, at a hotel in Okpuno, Awka, by security agents.
The incident, which took place last week, has pitched the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Oye, against the other political rivals, as he pointed fingers at an unnamed leading party for the act.
Flanked by key APGA leaders, who included the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Ifeatu Obi Okoye; and APGA Chairman, United Kingdom, Mr. Eric Nzekwe; Oye said the police and other security officers stormed the hotel and intercepted sensitive election materials packed in the two lorries, and that APGA strongly believed that the act was masterminded by the agents of an opposition political
Expressing their concern over the issue, Oye contended, “It beats our imagination that this kind of barbaric act would be happening in Nigeria. We are calling the world’s attention to this kind of sad development and we in APGA will not tolerate this latest development, which has beaten our imagination and cast doubts on the ability of INEC to conduct free and fair
“We are very happy with the security agencies for a job well done. This election cannot be rigged and the people of Anambra State will not tolerate it. We will resist it,” he, however, said.
so far, I have collected N1,000 each from the three major parties, namely: PDP, APGA and APC, and one of them has also given me a quarter bag of rice
INEC REFUTES ALLEGATION
A few hours after APGA had raised the alarm of the arrest of some people allegedly found with election materials at the Okpuno hotel, both the INEC and the police have dismissed the entire story as baseless and unfounded.
INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner for Anambra State, Mr. Nkwachukwu Orji, had, in a statement made available to journalists, denied it all, saying that the Commission was not aware of any missing sensitive election material and had not received any official report in that regard.
The INEC commissioner further said that the Commission wished to point out, in clear terms, that it was not possible for sensitive materials meant for the Anambra State governorship election to be delivered to a hotel room because there were laid down processes of delivering sensitive election materials, which involved strict monitoring of the process by party agents, election process observers, security agencies and the media.
He summed up their position, saying, “The INEC categorically states that the materials allegedly found in a hotel room in Awka does not belong to the Commission.”
Similarly, the police in Anambra State have denied the Okpuno hotel story.
4,000 AD HOC STAFF RECRUITED
Meanwhile, as the contending parties notched up their campaigns most times with messages designed to bring down their opponents, the INEC has announced that about 4,000 ad hoc staff, drawn from different places, had been undergoing training in readiness for their deployment on November 18, the election day.
INEC had also announced that it was ready to conduct a free and fair election and that it would continue to be transparent in all the processes for the election.
The INEC had, in a statement at the workshop on Election Management System Implementation Workshop in Awka, assured that the outcome of the election, at the end, would be acceptable to all the parties and their supporters.
INEC categorically states that the materials allegedly found in a hotel room in Awka does not belong to the Commission