Imo officials, federal lawmakers undermine security in Oguta election – INEC

Rochas Okorocha

The electoral body says it cancelled the election because it was inconclusive.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Wednesday explained that it ordered the cancellation of some results of last Saturday’s election in Oguta Constituency of Imo State because of the unruly conduct of politicians during the poll, as well as the violence that trailed it.

The Commission said officials of the Imo State Government and National Assembly members undermined the security arrangements during the election by violating the restriction order.

Elections were cancelled in eight wards. They are PU 001 in Ward 05 (Ndeloukwu/Umuowerre) – with 768 registered voters, PU 007 in Ward 03 (Izombe) – 939 registered voters, PU 009 in Ward 09 (Oru) – 708 registered voters, PU 010 (Ward 09) – 657 registered voters, PU 011 (Ward 09) – 407 registered voters, PU 012 (Ward 09) – 408 registered voters, PU 013 (Ward 09) – 667 registered voters and PU 003 in Ward 02 (Egwe/Egbuoma) – 212 registered voters.

According to a statement by Kayode Idowu, the media aide to the INEC Chairman, field reports pieced together by the commission, showed that even though security agents mobilized appreciably for the exercise, there were cases of violence as well as ballot sheets snatching by thugs.

The statement said, “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received reports showing that the election conducted in Oguta constituency of Imo State last Saturday, June 29, 2013, witnessed incidents of violence and unruly conduct by partisans, necessitating the cancellation of the election in eight (8) polling units. This cancellation made the election inconclusive.

“Field reports showed that even though security agents mobilised appreciably for the exercise, there were cases of violence as well as ballots and result sheets snatching by thugs, as a result of which the election was cancelled in the polling units.”

INEC explained that the total population of registered voters in the polling units affected was over 4,000; whereas the difference between the leading candidate and the next in the collated results was 2,011 votes.

“The procedure is that where the number of registered voters involved in a cancelled election exceeds the difference in the votes of the two leading candidates in collated results, the election will be declared inconclusive.

“It bears pointing out that the present outcome of Oguta constituency election is similar to what happened with the 2011 governorship election in Imo State, which was eventually resolved,” he said.

The commission noted that it is worrisome that politicians and hooligans brazenly flouted the restriction order on movement during the election.

It stated that “reports on the elections showed that officials of the Imo State Government and some members of the National Assembly across party lines moved around freely despite the restriction order – some of them with security escorts.

“Worse, some of these politicians aren’t even from Oguta constituency where the election held.”

The electoral body expressed disappointment over the culture of thuggery, intolerance and unruly conduct, which it confessed has continued to bedevil the nation’s electoral process.

The commission said it is already making necessary arrangements to conduct elections in the outstanding polling units just as it asked the police to guarantee secure environment in the areas where elections were cancelled.

“The Commission is already making necessary arrangements to conduct election in the outstanding polling units,” the statement said.

“However, it needs reassurance that there will be adequate security to insulate the process against disruption or interference by thugs, officials and partisans.

“The Commission hereby calls on the Police to do everything possible to guarantee a secure environment in the areas where the election was cancelled, so that the process can be brought to an early conclusion.”

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