Disenfranchised voters in Oredo ward 1 Demand INEC’s Apology
By FRANCIS ODUPUTE
BENIN CITY: Angry and greatly disappointed, they all went back home one after the other, denied of their civic rights to vote in the 2019 elections. The enthusiastic electorate in Oredo ward 1, units 25 and 26 at the Trade Fair ground, Ogbegbuya quarters, had trooped out in their numbers early Saturday to cast their votes for the presidency, senate and House of Assembly, but were later told by the INEC adhoc staff that voting materials brought to the ward were not complete, and voting could not commence until the remaining voting materials arrived.
Approached by our Correspondent for further explanations, the leader of the INEC adhoc team who did not give her name said she was still waiting for her superior to arrive with the remaining ballot papers. The voters waited in vain from 8:00am till 2:00pm for INEC officials to bring the remaining ballot papers before voting could commence, thereby forcing the voters to go home disenfranchised, while those who waited behind, including party agents demanded that all the available ballot papers be cancelled in their presence so that it would be clear that voting did not take place in Oredo ward 1 due to INEC’s failures.
Expressing his disappointment, a male party agent (name withheld) said that “this is daylight robbery by INEC. They brought materials that are not complete; about one thousand something materials…we decided that there will be no voting until they bring those materials because the INEC rules said the materials ought to be complete in order not to disenfranchise anybody from voting. They called their officer, he said he’s coming since, he finally came and said he saw one of the ballot papers somewhere, and it’s still not complete. So we’re still looking for 800, so there was no voting here.
Asked what could be responsible for this kind of development after all the preparations by INEC, the party agent said, “I believe strongly that it’s the fault of the INEC officials. They have their own internal agenda, because right now, the way election is being carried out in Nigeria, most times, you cannot rig elections in the polling boots. INEC is responsible for this.”
Also speaking, a female disenfranchised voter told our reporter that the excuse by INEC staff for the incomplete ballot papers was only a calculated strategic ruse to disenfranchise many voters in the ward. The angry lady said INEC must apologize for the unexpected disappointment.
Meanwhile, voting went on peacefully and orderly at the various units covered by our reporter in Egor Ward 1, in Evbuotubu quarters, earlier in the day. At the former Evbuotubu Primary school premises, at the Evbuotubu health center, at the Evbutubu Townhall and at Asoro Grammer school premises respectively, voters were seen casting their votes peacefully after being accredited by INEC officials, while security operatives and election observers complimented the efforts of INEC officials at each polling unit to ensure orderly conduct at the polls.