The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have come under attacks for postponing the general elections by one week, but findings by Ivotesng.com have revealed disturbing events few hours to the polls, which forced the Commission to shift the elections.
Though the INEC chairman would on Saturday, after a stakeholders meeting, go ahead to blame logistics and bad weather, but behind the scene were tales of blackmail, high-handedness and sabotage from powerful individuals close to government.
The postponement was the culmination of several clandestine actions to achieve a staggered election. But for the courage of the INEC which stood Its ground, the country would have witnessed the worst election in the history of the country. Our findings revealed obvious facts which proved that few days to the elections, these individuals were committed to making the Commission fail and throwing the country into confusion.
Ivotesng.com recalls also that few days to the scheduled February 16 polls, INEC offices were suspiciously set ablaze in Plateau, Anambra and Akwa Ibom. However, what most Nigerians are not aware of is the extent of damages suffered by the Commission in the fire.
In Anambra for instance, INEC lost 4,000 card readers. It is important to note that this fire incident happened just 4 days to the election. It therefore meant INEC had to configure and deploy 4,000 new card readers less than 3 days to the election.
Normally, INEC technical staff require a minimum of 5 days to configure the card readers. But as at Friday evening, the Commission had managed to replace, configure and deliver card readers for 14 LGAs. INEC said its staff were working on the remaining 7 LGAs.
In Plateau, 360 voting cubicles, 755 ballot boxes, 14 generators, election forms and official stamps were lost in the fire while 5,987 PVCs were also lost. The Commission staff again had to work hard to replace those election materials just a day to the election, barely four days after it happened.
But if the Commission’s leadership thought it had overcome its challenges, it appeared it wasn’t aware of how far the saboteurs were ready to go.
On Friday, the Commission, in its tradition to ensure safety of sensitive materials, began delivery of voting materials nationwide.
However, despite adequate preparations and assurances from NURTW and NAF to ensure speedy delivery of sensitive materials, Ivotesng.com findings revealed that as at 09:21pm on Friday sensitive materials had not gotten to several states, not to talk of having been distributed. And in an unusual manner, some pilots ferrying INEC materials were ordered to return to base mid-air.
In Enugu for instance, the Air Force plane conveying sensitive electoral materials was unable to land over claims of bad weather. Meanwhile, passenger planes landed in Enugu without weather issues that same period.
Our findings further revealed that Central Bank Zonal Heads were ordered to close branches on Friday when materials were being expected. The vaults were supposed to be used for safekeeping of the ballot papers. Also, buses carrying sensitive materials to Obot Akara local government in Akwa Ibom state were attacked and burnt.
In a twist, Kaduna State Governor, Malam El-Rufai suddenly announced the killing of 66 persons in Kajuru. That killing is still being doubted as the Christian Association of Nigeria and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) have since come out to deny such killings. So what was the motive of the governor?
While that news was just coming in, the Niger State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) suddenly announced that ballot papers for voting in Niger East and Niger North were missing.
Our findings revealed that once it became obvious that the process was sabotaged which led to late & non-delivery of sensitive materials, the INEC chairman summoned his team and was considering a one or two days extension. However, some top government officials were putting pressure on the Commission to go ahead with elections even when they knew that deployments had been hampered.
The plan was to have staggered elections where the INEC would be pressured to conduct elections in 26 states on Saturday and further delay the remaining 10 states. This would have provided a situation where security deployments would be concentrated in those states, thereby conferring unfair advantage to the ruling party. This was vigorously resisted by the INEC Chairman who insisted on conducting elections in every state of the federation at once.
As it is, the Chairman may have succeeded in getting Nigerians to back him up on his resolve not to have the elections staggered.
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