By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday lamented the carting away of its direct data capturing machines by yet-to-be identified persons in three local government areas in Enugu State.
The commission expressed worry that the unfortunate development had adversely affected the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration exercise in the state as thousands of those who had taken part in the affected councils would need to be called back to be re-registered.
The three councils are Oji-River, Enugu South and Ezeagu.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu who made the disclosure during a town hall meeting with Civil Society Organsations and the media however insisted that the commission remained undaunted in its determination to deliver credible election by 2019.
“It’s important for us to say it time and again that our major problem is external not internal. It is not within INEC, it is outside INEC. And I will explain to you. Within the last six months of my tenure, we have experienced burglary in Oji River (LGA), we have experienced burglary in Enugu South (LGA), and we have experienced burglary in
Ezeagu (LGA), and few other places.
“What was the target? Those direct data capture machines. Enugu would have been better than sixth position now, but because of the machines, our PDF machines, and our back up that they took from Ezeagu where we have more centres now.
“Unfortunately the backup we believed that had part of the registration data didn’t save anything. And we are talking about thousands of registrants. We are in the process of getting back those forms they filled to see if we’ll begin to call them again, whether they will agree to come all over again. But it is not a ghost that broke into the ceiling, scaled into the offices and ransacked everywhere and took those machines away. These were human beings who want to sabotage the entire process,” he noted.
The REC also dismissed as false insinuations that INEC personnel were demanding money from those taking part in the CVR, insisting that it had nothing to do with the commission.
He urged Enugu residents to utilise the ongoing display of lists of registered voters in the first quarter of 2018 CVR for claims and objections, noting that the claims and objections would help to strengthen accuracy of the registers.
He also challenged the civil society groups to engage in sensitisation of the public on the CVR and display of the registers, saying “We should not sit at homes and expect miracle to happen. Even the groups asking for secession, they will still need the voters register for conduct of referendum, if their agitations are considered.”
The Leader of the Coalition of Civil Society groups in Enugu State, Onyebuchi Igboke pledged the readiness of the CSOs to partner with the commission in order to deliver credible.