Voters in Owerri West and North Local Government Areas of Imo have expressed worry over the absence of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and voting materials at the various polling centres in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reporters monitoring the polls report that there was a large turnout of voters at the various polling units visited but voting did not begin as of 8.30 a.m. as scheduled by INEC.
Some of the voters interviewed at the polling centres expressed frustration and disappointment over the development.
They decried the failure of INEC to ensure the timely distribution of materials to ensure the timely commencement of the elections.
At Orie Uratta polling unit, a voter, Onyinyechi Iwunze, said that while the INEC officials had arrived at the Owerri North Local Government headquarters, officials were yet to arrive with voting materials at the polling units in Ward 12.
In Ward 006, Health Centre, Ihiagwa, Peace Iwuagwu, lamented the delay in the arrival of officials and materials at the centre.
At Aladimma Ward 1, polling units at Aladimma Primary School and Aladimma Police Station in Owerri Municipal, voters were seen waiting for both INEC officials and materials as of 9:27 am.
Also, at Polling Units 006 and 002, Central School Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area, there were no elected officials and materials as of 10.54 a.m., when NAN visited the centre.
Speaking on the development, a Catholic priest, Kenneth Agwaigbo, who said he travelled down from St. Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot Ekpene, to be able to vote, expressed concern over the absence of INEC officials and materials.
“As a citizen, I left my seminary yesterday to come and exercise my right to vote.
“I took the risk, in spite of cash crunch and fuel scarcity.
“Objectively, the elections are yet to hold here.
“I have not seen any sign of election starting now may be due to one problem or the other.
“Hopefully, they will still come because I know the government prepared adequately for the election,” the cleric said.
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At Polling Unit 010, Ozuh Umuokpala Omuma, where Governor Hope Uzodimma was expected to vote, there was no presence of security and INEC officials on the ground as of 9:54 am.
“Since morning we have been waiting for INEC with no sign,” a resident, Mr Emeka Mbah, said.
A NAN Correspondent, who visited Oru East Local Government Area, reports that INEC officials were still sorting materials for distribution to various polling units as of 9 am.
At Umuorii/ Umushioke village, Polling Units 021, INEC officials were present, while voters turned out in large numbers but there were no security personnel on the ground.
At Afor Orogwe ward 006, Owerri West Local Government Area, the turnout of voters was also impressive with security operatives present, but INEC officials and materials had yet to arrive at the centre as of 9.15 a.m.
In Aladinma ward 013, Customs Quarters Ward 016, there was a heavy presence of eligible voters, but INEC officials and security personnel had yet to show up as at 9.30 a.m.
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