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ANAMBRA: INEC holds fresh polls in 65 units today as APC, others kick

By The Rainbow

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced on Saturday that elections in 65 polling units of Idemili North have been rescheduled for Sunday following the cancellation of polling activities.

But All Progressives Congress (APC) is demanding for fresh elections in four local government areas of the state, where it said that election either did not hold or massive malpractices were observed during voting on Saturday.

The Anambra State Electoral Commissioner, who announced the rescheduled elctions on Saturday evening said that polling in the affected units would hold at 12.30pm Sunday.

A community in Idemili had refused to vote because INEC failed to supply result sheets.A community leader told observers and journalists that his people were waiting to get a new date for election in the community.

The Interim National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement in Lagos on Saturday, said the the party had rejected INEC's decision to organise fresh elections in only 65 polling units on Sunday.

According to the APC spokesman, limiting the fresh polls to only 65 units will amount to massive disenfranchisement of its supporters.

It listed the affected four local government areas where elections ether did not hold or were fraught with irregularities as Idemili North, Idemili South, Awka South and Ihiala.

'In Idemili North, which has the highest number of registered voters at 173,832, voting materials did not arrive as 2 pm, when voters ought to have cast their votes; In Idemili South, with registered 85,731 voters, several qualified voters were disenfranchised as their names did not appear on the voters' register; In Awka South, with 118,312 registered voters, the names of APC supporters were expunged from the voters' register and in Ihiala, massive fraudulent practices were recorded at Uli Ward 1 polling unit and Umuchima polling unit 14

'Aside from Ihiala Local Government Area, the three local councils above comprise 377, 875 of the total 1, 784, 536 registered voters,' APC said, adding that the affected areas were home to its support base.

The party said nothing short of fresh elections in the three LGs and the cancellation of the results in the listed polling units in Ihiala would be acceptable to it

Further, the party strongly advises INEC not to declare any results relating to the Governorship Election until repeat elections are held in these areas where these irregularities occurred, more so as most of the party's supporters have been disenfranchised in these areas. In fact, all major parties in the Anambra Governorship election except ALL progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) were full of complaints on Saturday.

The candidates of Labour Party Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah,  All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Chris Ngige and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) charged the Inddependent National Electoral Comission (INEC) of deliberate plan to disenfranchise their supporters from exercising their franchise.

Nwoye and his parents could not take part in the exercise as they could not find his name in the voter's register at his Nsugbe Ward 1 polling booth in Anambra East Local Government Area. The PDP's candidate is alleging over 30 percent of his supporters were disenfranchised as they could not trace their names in the register. INEC officials on ground could not give reasons for the omission of their names even when they were all carrying valid voters card.

In Nwoye's view, the whole development was a pre-planned arrangement between APGA controlled state government and INEC to remove people's name from the voter's register especially in areas where APGA lacked support.

Nwoye wondered how his names, those of his parents and his numerous supporters could disappear  from the same list that was used in voting in the last election.

He said he tried to communicate reach the INEC Chairman Prof Attahiru Jega with his complains but he was inaccessible.

'Unlike during the time of Iwu when I was the PDP chairman in the state, you get him with just one dial,' he said.

Nwoye said despite the contrivances of INEC and APGA that he was still hopeful to emerge victorious. Labour party candidate Ubah was almost on the same page with Nwoye.

Ubah also complained about deliberate attempt to prevent his supporters from taking part in the exercise.

According to him, , where’s there are 671 registered voters in Nnewinchi ward 2 polling units, only 71 voters are provided for in the register available.

“How can you disenfranchise over 600 voters in that unit. The same situation is happening in most of the polling units around here,” he said after being accredited in his unit.

Ngige alleged that electoral materials were not made available at some of his major strongholds in Awka South, Idemili North and Idemili South councils.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Electoral Monitoring Committee, Dafe Akpedeye (SAN) has praised the new tactics employed by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in ensuring a hitch-free election.

Speaking to Channels Television in Awka, Akpedeye said 'INEC keeps tweaking things and try to get them better' noting that 'one of the challenges we have had is the issue of ballot snatching' adding that 'you could snatch a ballot box and take it to another unit and it could go back'.

He further noted that 'what INEC has done is that they tied each ballot box to a particular polling unit, so if you took a ballot box away, the chance of you getting it back to that polling unit is next to nothing and that is why you haven't seen any issue of ballot box snatching today'.

He also noted that about 700, 000 persons were tweaked out of the voter register because they 'didn't do their due process' thereby pruning the number of voters from 2.4 million to 1.7 million.

He further noted that 'INEC keeps thinking of better ways of doing things' insisting that 'the challenges are still there'.

He however berated the late arrival of voting materials to the polling units saying 'I would have thought we would be able to seamlessly delivered voting materials for the voters latest by 9AM'.

He noted that the 'roads here are very bad and traveling from one spot to the other takes quite more than normal'.

An election observer, Festus Okoye confirmed that there was an exchange of money between the voters and representatives of the candidates.

He however noted that those who collected the money did so because 'they believe the money belongs to us (voters) so we are going to collect it and vote and still vote in accordance with pur conscience'.

Okoye praised the attitude of INEC officials and voters in the polling unit he monitored but maintained that 'there are operational challenges, logistics challenges that INEC must over come'