Agitations for Biafra affected voter registration in Southeast, says INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said that agitations for a sovereign state of Biafra affected the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in the southeast.
It stated that the exercise picked up in the zone only after the successful conduct of the Anambra State governorship election in November last year.INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Enugu State, Emeka Ononamadu disclosed that it was the conviction that followed the successful conduct of the Anambra election after various threats from secessionist groups that swayed the people’s interest in the registration exercise.
Speaking during INEC’s town hall meeting with civil society groups and the media, Ononamadu noted that although the agitation for Biafra was not so intense in all the states of the zone, it, however, had ripple effects on the exercise.
“Majority of the residents believed that boycotting the exercise was the best way to achieve their agitation. They also felt that the Federal Government would cancel the Anambra governorship election.“But when they realised that people came out to vote and the election held successfully, it changed their perception and people began to register in the various states,” he stated.
He added that the trend affected the 2015 general elections in the zone, where less than 400,000 voters elected the governors and other public officers that emerged from the zone, stressing that there was the need to rebuild Igbo peoples’ confidence in the country and the electoral system. He said it was disheartening when viewed from the fact that millions registered in the previous exercise in the zone.
Speaking specifically on Enugu, he pointed out that the state would have exceeded its 1.4 million registered voters after the apathy in some local councils, as well as the stealing of machines in three council areas of the state.
He pointed out that some communities in Igboeze North council refused to be part of the exercise in protest that they should be carved out of Enugu state, adding that it took several meetings and persuasions for them to agree to be registered.
He said the commission’s offices were vandalised at Eziagu, Oji River and Enugu North while the vandals carted away the data capturing machines, stressing that the commission was at the verge of embarking on fresh registration for those who had not registered.
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