Some ad-hoc staff members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been abducted in Imo State.
INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo, Francis Ezeonu, confirmed the abduction of the electoral officials on Saturday while briefing reporters in Owerri, the state capital.
This comes as the electoral umpire conducts a bye-election for the Ngor Okpala State Constituency seat in the Imo State House of Assembly.
“We have noticed with great worries the abduction by some unknown persons of some of our ad-hoc staff, together with election materials towards the end of polls,” Ezeonu said.
“While the trend earlier in the day was violence, disruption, and destruction, or carting away of INEC voting materials; towards the end of polls, it changed to the abduction of our personnel with our BVAS, ballot papers, and result sheets.”
The REC also confirmed the incidences of violence and snatching of ballot boxes in some areas, adding that the abducted persons were blindfolded and forcefully taken to an unknown destination.
“We received the reports of incidences of violence and disruption of votes in some polling units and attacks on our personnel,” he added. “So far, no casualty has been reported and the security (agencies) have been up and doing in rescuing some of our staff who were trapped within the crisis areas.
“We remain grateful to them and pray they sustain the tempo till the end of the day. We have received SOS from some of our ad-hoc staff who were abducted, blindfolded, and taken to unknown destinations where they are compelled to thumbprint the ballot papers.
“Our situation room has similarly received several complaints alluding to the same (reports) from the general public.”
While the number of those kidnapped has yet to be ascertained, Ezeonu appealed to the individuals or group responsible for the abduction of the INEC ad-hoc officials to release them unconditionally
He stressed that the commission was not ready and would never take results that do not tally with accredited voters from the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine.
“We wish to reassure the general public that the results manufactured from unknown places will not be collated. The number of votes cast must tally with the number of accredited voters, as shown by the BVAS for such a result to be authenticated,” the REC stated.
The election held on Saturday was also held in three other states, including Cross River (Ogoja/Ayala Federal Constituency and Akpabuyo State Constituency).
INEC conducted the poll in Ondo (Akure South/North Federal Constituency) and Plateau (Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency and Pankshin (State Constituency).