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Electoral body explains changing of field officers in Imo

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Imo Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor Francis Ezeonu


Candidates relocate to Owerri as fear grips politicians
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Imo State have revealed that the body decided to drop some of its field officers for Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections to avoid a repeat of the ugly incidents that marred the presidential and National Assembly polls.

The Imo INEC dropped almost half of the polling and collation officers that handled the presidential and National Assembly elections and replaced them with new recruits and also deployed some of its senior members of staff to the field.A top official of the commission told The Guardian yesterday that the body was embarrassed by the level of indiscipline and corruption displayed by some of the dropped members of staff, who allegedly connived with corrupt politicians to compromise the results of the presidential elections.

The Imo Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Francis Ezeonu, had after the presidential elections accused some of his staff of sabotaging the polls, promising to put things right before the governorship polls.

Also, an Imo INEC official, who pleaded anonymity, said the body was “embarrassed by the conduct of some of the field officers,” saying: They came into the process with wrong attitudes; some of them showed they were open to be corrupted and in the end, they rubbished all the plans we made towards the elections. “We were left with no option than to tighten up the process this time.

“The measure worked to some extent, but there were still cases of alleged malpractices recorded in some areas.Meanwhile, the fear of being outsmarted by their opponents in the governorship and state assembly elections has forced the major contenders in the polls to relocate to Owerri.

The contestants and their supporters returned to their home towns to cast their votes and monitor events at the end of the exercise. Most of them left for Owerri immediately they learnt about the outcome of the polls in their locality.

Apart from the fear of what would happen to the results after leaving the polling booths, The Guardian observed that most of the contestants and their supporters had issues to sort out with INEC owing to reports of irregularities and attempts to bend the electoral process in some polling units. Some of the candidates have already lodged complaints of alleged malpractices committed by their opponents.

Apart from such issues as incomplete supply of electoral materials in some wards, some aggrieved candidates reported incident of ballot box snatching and alleged collusion of some candidates with military personnel to harass electoral officers.

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Francis EzeonuINEC
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