As eligible voters trooped out en masse to cast their ballots to their preferred candidates, many of them were denied the opportunity to exercise their civic rights due to late arrival of INEC officials to the designated Polling Units, hijacking of Ballot Papers by thugs allegedly sent by a particular political party while some could not find their names in the Polling Units where they registered.
These deficiencies were largely witnessed in many Polling Units in Obitti/Mgbuishi, Awarra/Ikwerede, Assa/Obille Wards, Egbema Ward A, C, and B. These Wards have numerous number of registered voters who were largely seen, peacefully waiting to cast their votes.
Speaking to journalists at the area on Saturday, Hon. Jude Ossai, a Chieftain of the PDP, said in Umuonu, Umuoso, Obitti Town School, Obitti Primary School, Ihie Primary School, election started very late due to late arrival of INEC officials, adding that the delay caused the disenfranchisement of many eligible voters who came out since 8 am to vote.
He regretted that the 2023 election was the worse poll conducted since the country returned to democracy, decrying slowness of the BVAS and doctoring of results by a particular political party and delay in uploading collated results into INEC portal.
According to Ossai, “it is a thing out of place to witness that in Umuonu, Umuoso in Mgbuisii autonomous community of Ohaji, INEC staff came to the Polling Units late, warranting us to hire generator for visibility and the BVAS battery charging to ensure that we cast our votes and upload them. And yet many could not vote. INEC officials in Umuoso Polling Unit cried out that ‘the code they gave us could not unlock our BVAS machine, we have been struggling with it’. This is bad. INEC is yet to improve. Nigeria is derailing”.
Commenting, Nze Onwuka, an official of Labor Party in Awarra, hinted that despite late arrival of INEC officials to some Polling Units in Awarra Court Area, a particular political party sent thugs who carted away Ballot Boxes with no security agent on sight to stop them. Although they were given a hot chase by the voters. He alleged that the intention of snatching the electoral materials was to rig the election in favour of their candidates.
“Are you aware that half of the people of Ohaji/Egbema, one of the most populated local government areas in Imo State, did not vote yesterday because INEC staff did not come, while in some Polling Units like Awarra/Ikwerede Ward, they came around some minutes to 6PM. This is a ploy by APC led government of Imo State to disfranchise most Imolites. It is now obvious by way the election is running. They are writing results manually everywhere. They are trying to kill democracy”.
While calling for cancellation of the presidential poll, LP stalwart in Egbema Ward A, Chimaoku Okoro, lamented high level of fraud and manipulation of the process by the APC. He regretted that Nigeria is sliding into anarchy by ridiculing itself with election malady by those he termed as desperadoes and wicked elements.
“Imo is sliding into anarchy. Criminals have taken over as police officers in Imo. Rogues released from Police Cells were given police Uniforms to act as real police officers on election duty. Inspector General of Police should take note of this election malady”.
A PDP Chieftain in Assa/Obile Ward, Mazi Iwuji Benson, posited that “since some of the hoodlums in Assa/Obile Ward, in Ohaji Egbema, have hijacked all the electoral materials, voters decided to use manual materials to vote. There was nothing like election in Assa/Obile Ward. Woe to those who were involved in this mess called election rigging. All APC leaders in Assa/Obile should be called to order by security agencies for peace to reign”.