George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Francis Ezeonu, has expressed worry over the demand of N2million by one of the communities in the state before the commission could be allowed the use of its town hall facility as a collation centre/registration area camp for the forthcoming general election.
Prof Ezeonu disclosed this during an interactive meeting with stakeholders comprising politicians, candidates, police, military and para-military agencies.
He regretted that after carefully mapping and identifying 105 collation and RACs at different locations in the 305 electoral wards of the 27 local councils, a community wrote the commission in Owerri, asking it to pay over N2 million if they want to utilise their town hall and that as a result of the demand commission left the community.
According to him, “two days ago, we received a petition from a particular community that if the commission wants to use their town hall as collation and RAC centre, we should pay over N2 million. We had to move from there to somewhere else. I want to urge the stakeholders, monarchs, community leaders and the president-generals of the 645 communities in the state to educate their people to allow the elections to take place.”
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner regretted that some persons were trying to sabotage the efforts of the commission to organise free, fair, credible and peaceful elections, insisting that no amount of intimidation would stop his leadership and members of staff of the commission from organising the elections as scheduled.
He lamented that despite the level of sensitisation and awareness carried out by the INEC in the state on the importance of the registrants to collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs), 563,954 were still unclaimed, even after the six-day ward and RACs distribution of the PVCs last week.
He also disclosed that areas mapped out as the RACs included public schools, community town halls among others excluding the local councils’ headquarters, stressing that the designated RACs must be closed to the polling and voting points for easy accessibility with minimal comfort (water, security, convenience and sleeping comfort).
According to the REC, there are 3,427 polling units provided by the commission in the state, disclosing that a voting unit is created after each exceeds 750 registered voters, while the distance from each RAC to polling unit must not be more than 20 – minute drive.
He also disclosed that on the February 14, sensitive materials would be inspected and moved from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to the collation and RACs centres at the presence of the INEC workers, accredited journalists and security personnel.
Also speaking at the event Imo State Commissioner of Police, Dasuki Galandachi, disclosed that the command would withdraw all the police orderlies attached to political office holders and those seeking for elective office.
He admonished all political office seekers and supporters to strictly abide by the extant electoral and security guidelines during the election.