Polls: Ortom accuses security agencies of intimidation

9:31: Governor samuel Ortom arrives PU003, Nzoro Ward 08, Gbajimba, Guma local government of Benue State, in company of his wife. Voting has commenced
FILE: 9:31: Governor samuel Ortom arrives PU003, Nzoro Ward 08, Gbajimba, Guma local government of Benue State, in company of his wife. Voting has commenced

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Saturday expressed worry over reports of intimidation of the masses by security operatives at polling stations in the state.

The governor, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made the observation after casting his vote at his polling unit in Guma Local Government Area of the state.

Mr Ortom, who spoke with Channels TV Correspondent in the area shortly after voting said: “My fear is the intimidation from the security agencies.”

He said he was informed at the polling station that the state agent of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) was arrested at about 5:30 a.m. on excuse that he was training thugs.

“Allegation that he was training thugs is flimsy. I know there are no thugs in the agent’s house. I believe he was just arrested for no just cause,” he said.

The governor accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of being responsible for the invasive and arrest of the agent.

According to him, the APC is not on ground in the state, and therefore have resorted to collaborating with security agencies to intimidate the people

“I am told the Inspector General of Police (IGP) directed the security operatives to arrest the agent, despite that the Commissioner of Police was here to monitor the election.

“Both the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) and the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) are all supposed to monitor the elections. Why do we need to have police coming down from Abuja to arrest anybody?” the governor said.

He said the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are disappointed they are not going to vote in their units, while IDPs in other states, like Borno, are voting.

Mr Ortom questioned why IDPs from Guma, where they have over 120,000 IDPs, who are ready to vote, are not allowed to do so.

On allegation about voting not taking place in the IDPs, INEC National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said it was not true.

He said INEC had made adequate provision for all inmates of IDP camps in the country to exercise their civic rights in this election.

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Mr. Okoye who spoke on Channels TV said INEC had a framework on which IDPs will be voting.

“We isolated 15 states where we have IDP challenges going into this election. One of the states is Benue. We made adequate arrangements for voting by IDPs because we have a regulation on how IDPs will vote.

In some of the places where there is a concentration of IDPs, Mr Okoye said voting is in accordance with their registration areas and their votes will count.

Also, for IDPs who lost their voters cards as they were leaving their areas, and their names were confirmed to be on the voter’s registers, he said their permanent voters cards were reprinted and given to them.

“For those who have not registered before, during the continuous voter registration, we captured them so that they will be able to vote by making sure conditions exist for their voting,” he said.

Mr. Okoye said he supervised Benue, Anambra and Enugu State himself and visited all the IDP camps in those states where he harvested all the numbers.

He said he has been working together with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state to make sure all the IDPs camps have the opportunity to exercise their democratic franchise.

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