Two electoral officers attached to the Oredo and Orhiomwon Local Government Areas of Edo State in the last Presidential and National Assembly elections have been sacked by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Resident Electoral Commissioner in Edo State, Mr. Mike Igini, disclosed this on Tuesday during a meeting with leaders of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party at the commission’s office in Benin.
The affected officials were said to have been sacked over their alleged involvement in the disappearance of result sheets provided for elections in those areas.
Igini said, “Some officers of the commission are being interrogated over alleged malpractices in the last elections. Those involved may face prosecution. Already two electoral officers have been relieved of duty.
“After a meeting with the INEC Chairman in Abuja, it was also decided that elections would be conducted in those areas where they had to postpone the elections due to late arrival of voting materials and disappearance of result sheets.”
He listed the areas to include the entire Orhiomwon Local Government Area. Six wards in Uhumwode; some ward and units in Ikpoba Okha; Ovia North-East; Ovia South-West and Oredo local government areas.
While explaining that the winner of the Edo South Senatorial election would emerge through a simple majority, Igini stressed that the winner of the Senatorial election could only emerge after elections had been held in these areas.
The announcement, however, did not go down well with PDP party leaders including the State Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, and a former Deputy Governor of the state, Lucky Imasuen, who were present at the meeting. They insisted that there was no need for senatorial elections to be conducted in any other local government except for Orhiomwon.
Orbih said, “You mentioned a local government where from 91 polling units, only 12 units were affected with whatever reason that led to cancellation or suspension of the election there. How can you then say because of that six wards must conduct the senatorial elections again? We need to know how many units are in the wards and why we are carrying out elections in all other units that were not affected.
“If this meeting was about telling us what the commission has decided, you probably would have communicated that to us in writing. I thought we were going to discuss these issues so that you can hear from both sides and then make your decision. But here we are waiting for you to lecture us on what INEC has decided.”
Tension in the hall heightened when the PDP leaders claimed an electoral officer had perfected plans to allegedly rig the elections in favour of another party. This caused the Secretary of the APC in Edo State, Chief Osaro Idah, to also complain that security agencies had, in the March 28 elections, turned a blind eye to the activities of a political party who, right at the polling units in Oredo Local Govergment Area, had used financial inducement to get votes from the electorate.
Idah said, “I am not accusing anyone but there was financial inducement on the field during the elections. We reported to the security agencies and they did nothing. People were openly giving the electorate money to induce their votes.
“I am appealing to INEC to please educate people to do the right thing. We would not tolerate that again in the forthcoming election. Thumb printing which was also meant to be done secretly was carried out openly with agents of a certain party trying to influence the process.”