The ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission who was earlier declared missing during the Saturday bye-election in Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State has been found.

INEC Director (Voter Education and Publicity), Nick Dazang, confirmed this to journalists in Abuja on Monday.

He said, “I am exceedingly glad to report that the Administrative Secretary, Zamfara, Garba Lawal, just informed me that our ad hoc staff who went missing had been found, hale and hearty.

“According to him, they had run for their dear lives and in the process could not retrace their ways back. May Almighty God be praised for this wonderful development.

“The REC Zamfara, Administrative Secretary and the security agencies who spent sleepless nights and worked assiduously to recover the staff equally deserve our appreciation. Kudos to them and more grease to their elbows.”

THE PUNCH had reported that INEC National Commissioner and chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye, had on Sunday declared Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State inconclusive because “the 2,181-vote margin between the two leading candidates – those of the Peoples Democratic Party (18,645 votes) and All Progressives Congress (16,464) – is less than the total number of registered voters in 14 Polling Units where elections were cancelled or not held, which stands at 11,429.”

He said, “The results of all the House of Assembly seats have been declared, except for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State. Also, the results of four Senatorial seats have been successfully declared and the commission hopes that the results of the other Senatorial seats would be declared soon.

“Although the elections went generally well, the commission regrets that some unscrupulous persons are still bent on disrupting the processes.

“In some areas, staff of the commission were assaulted and materials destroyed, while in others there was resistance to the use of the Smart Card Readers.

“In yet other areas, Commission staff were prevented from deploying altogether. In fact, in one area in Lagos State, some people demanded money from INEC staff before they would be allowed to deploy.

“These acts continue to reflect poorly on our country and denude the spirited efforts of the commission to improve the electoral process under very difficult circumstances.

“Sadly, a number of the commission’s staff were assaulted during the bye-elections. The commission commiserates with them. The commission also wishes to extend deep condolences to the families of the six policemen who lost their lives when the boat in which they were escorting election staff and materials capsized in Bayelsa State.

“One consequence of the lingering problem of election disruption manifested in the declaration of the bye-election for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State inconclusive. The Returning Officer declared the result inconclusive in line with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections.”

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