N'ASSEMBLY POLLS: 117 BALLOT BOXES STOLEN - INEC
No fewer than 117 ballot boxes were stolen during the National Assembly elections. Despite the shocks arising from the outcome of the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised to tighten the noose around the perpetrators of electoral malpractices.
Daily Sun gathered that after taking stock of voting materials at the end of the election, the Commission found out that 117 ballot boxes were missing.
There were reported cases of ballot box snatching in virtually all the states, but Bayelsa State topped the chart with 23 boxes stolen at the various poling units across the states.
Sources disclosed that the commission was pointing the fingers in the direction of influential politicians as masterminds of the stolen ballot boxes.The source also disclosed that the commission had invited the security agencies to help retrieve the boxes wherever they may have been kept.
This development, it was learnt, had made the leadership of the commission and the security agencies to go back to drawing board to strategize on security arrangements for the presidential election which they believed would be more challenging than the National Asembly elections.
The commission had also taken notes of spots of violence in the last election with a view to forestalling it in the Presidential election.
INEC Chairman's Chief Press Secretary, Kayode Idowu confirmed to Daily Sun that 117 boxes were stolen and that the Commission had taken note of all that happened during the parliamentary election.
According to him, all the ugly developments across the federation had been tabulated and would be interpreted before being given out to newsmen.
Idowu disclosed that the Commission was leaving no stone unturned to fish out the perpetrators of the theft. No official of the Commission would be spared if found to have connived with politicians to sabotage the process.
He explained that going by the comments of the people and all other stakeholders, the Commission had not done badly in the conduct of the election but would not rest on its oars to ensure next Saturday's presidential election is more peaceful.
'The European Union, The Commonwealth, The United States government have all spoken well about the process and were satisfied that for the first time, credibility had been added to our election. Also, our Chairman has promised that there would be improvement in the conduct of the next election,' Idowu stated.
He further explained that the Commission had not received any complaint from aggrieved politicians who lost out in last Saturday's election against any of its officials or the results so far declared.
The spokesman of the Chairman said INEC as an impartial umpire would continue to do all within its power to ensure the outcome of the election reflects the wishes of the people
Meanwhile, the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega has said he remained focused despite the mischievous and unsubstantiated allegations being leveled against him and other members of the Commission..
He stated this just as he said the Commission would redouble its efforts to ensure areas of voting are fully secured for materials and personnel ahead of the presidential and governorship elections.
Jega who was reacting to the pre-election violence across the country said he was not bothered by whatever allegation people raised against him because he had gotten a job to do and he had to it without fear or favour.
While reiterating the determination of INEC to meet Nigerians' aspirations having a free and fair election, Jega attributed the violence that heralded the election to the negative mobilisation and the mindset of do-or-die of some politicians noting that the intention of the perpetrators was to derail the preparation 'but they have failed.'