VOTERS PROTEST IN ENUGU AS INEC COMMISSIONER REPLACES ORIGINAL RESULT SHEETS
Electorates in communities where rerun elections were billed to hold in Enugu State on Saturday protested against the alleged replacement of the original result sheets meant for the conduct of the by-elections by the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state, Dr Chukwuemeka Chukwu.
SaharaReporters which monitored the by-elections in the state reports that late arrival of materials and missing result sheets characterised the rerun elections across the state.
It was observed that only polling units where there is less than 20 voters that result sheets where provided. This development led to electorates refusing to participate in the election, demanding for the results-sheets.
As at 9:30 am, hundreds of supporters of the Labour Party (LP) in the state started protest, chanting songs and demanding that the result sheets be provided before the commencement of the election at Robinson Street, Uwani, Enugu, for Enugu South Urban state constituency.
The situation was also the same in Igbo-Eze North LGA of the state where by-election for Igbo-Eze North and Udenu Federal Constituency was supposed to take place as voters in Umuida, Imufu, Umuosai in Umuitodo Ward 3, and other communities in Enugu-Ezike town.
The electorates insisted that no election would take place in the area without the original result sheets.
Trouble had started, when Labour Party (LP) stakeholders and supporters got a wind of an alleged diversion of the result sheets by the INEC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Consequently, they stormed the election venues at Robinson Street, Uwani, Enugu, and began chanting songs, and demanding that the result sheets be released for the election to commence.
As the LP supporters marched in protest before hundreds of a combined security operatives, their PDP counterparts, demonstrated, insisting that they have seen the result sheets and that the election should commence.
While the logjam continued, the state commissioner of police, Kanayo Uzuegbu, the state director of the Department of Security, senior military officers, and all security agencies were present in the election meant for only eight polling units at Robinson Street Primary School, Uwani.
The demonstrations continued until around 12 noon, when the REC, Dr Chukwuemeka Chukwu, came and addressed the agents of the various political parties.
He told them that the original result sheets had been LOST and that he had provided an alternative.
The REC allegedly quickly brought out a photocopy of the 2023 general elections results sheet and told them that he would sign and countersign for that to be used for the election.
However, the agents of LP vehemently rejected the move by the REC to use the 2023 election result sheets for the by-election.
Speaking to newsmen, Chukwu said, “This morning, information reaching to me has it that there’s an issue of missing result booklet for voting to start.
“The political party demanded that, in line with the Electoral Act, every material for the election should be shown to them before the voting will commence.
“When I got the information, I quickly ran to this place to calm the situation and proffer solution for the problem.
“In line with the Electoral Act, if the result sheet is mutilated or missing, what we’re going to issue is replacement.
“So, I’m here to tell the world that whatever any person is saying, in line with the law, if any election material is altered before election is concluded, INEC has every right to issue a replacement result sheets or any material in that category.
“So, here is the replacement of the result sheets. So, I’m going to stamp it and I’m going to sign and countersign it so that voting will commence.
“Voting is going to commence very shortly in this Uwani. What we are conducting here is only polling units,” he explained.
When journalists asked him how the result sheets got missing, the REC stopped talking and left the interview session.
One of the LP polling unit agents, Arinze Ogbodo, rejected the move. He said: “When we came here we requested to see the materials for the election result sheet for the election to enable us start the election but they refused. They refused to show us the original result sheet. Now the REC from the INEC came here and told us that he will sign the photocopy of the 2023 result sheet for us to use for the election. He told us that the EO that is incharge of this result sheet has absconded.
“There is no way in the history of an election you conduct election with photocopy of election result. Where is the original result and where is the EO who is an official of the commission?
They should produce him because at the end of the day, the said result sheet will be produced and they will use it to announce the result. We will not accept it.
“What we are saying is that if INEC is not ready for this election, they should cancel it and fix a fresh date for the election. We will not accept this,” he said.
In Enugu-Ezike and Ubolo-Afor 20 polling units in four Wards had no result sheets for the election.