Many members of the National Youth Service Corps scheme, who functioned as ad-hoc staff during the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections in Imo State, have refused to take part in Saturday’s polls.
They based their action on the heightened tension in the state, and their ugly experiences during the last elections.
But the spokesperson for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state, Emmanuella Opara, said she was unaware of such development.
A Corps Liason Officer (CLO) in Obowo Local Government Area of the state, Akabunwa Kachi, told PREMIUM TIMES that about 15 corps members in his local government who participated in the presidential election have refused to take part in tomorrow’s poll.
He said; “As the CLO, it is my responsibility to oversee my colleague’s welfare. About 15 of them have said they cannot risk their lives in Saturday’s election.
“Their experience during the last election was not palatable and they said the situation may be worse this time because this is purely local elections.”
Mr Kachi said he is also not participating for personal reasons.
“I didn’t even take part in the last election too,” he said.
Similarly, another corps member, who identified himself simply as Dozie, also confirmed many corps members have refused to participate in the election.
Dozie, an indigene of Imo State, said he has been posted to New Owerri to serve as presiding officer.
“I am on my way to my RAC now,” he said.
An official of the commission, who asked not to be named, told PREMIUM TIMES that the leadership of INEC in the state no longer trusts ad-hoc staff to be fair in their duties. The source said many of them betrayed the commission during the last poll and that measures have been taken to reduce the ad-hoc staff’s roles on Saturday.
“The INEC chairman complained bitterly about the roles many of the ad-hoc staff played during the last election and has resolved to ensure that all INEC staff are deployed to take charge of many roles which are normally designated for ad-hoc staff,” the source said.
Meanwhile, INEC has said it is fully prepared for the election and that all necessary steps have been taken to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
Mrs Opara said it is a rumour that corps members have withdrawn from the election duty.
“We are fully set and what we are waiting for at the moment is the election time,” she said.