Senator Orji protests late commencement of polls in Umuahia
* INEC has failed woefully – Abia PDP chair
From Steve Oko
Senator Theodore Orji representing Abia Central senatorial zone, has complained bitterly over the late commencement of polls in his Ugba Primary School unit and many parts of Umuahia metropolis.
The former Governor who arrived the venue by 12 pm but could not vote due to non -availability of materials left in annoyance.
Presiding Officer in charge of the booth, Blessing Anarah, had blamed the development on the non availability of result sheets for presidential poll.
She had also said they were waiting for the Electoral Officer to avail them of the code for activating the card readers.
But Senator Orji who returned to the venue later by 1:30 pm in the company of his wife Mrs. Odochi Orji expressed sadness over the ugly scenario.
He described it as a deliberate ploy to disenfranchise his supporters.
Orji said he had also been inundated with reports that the exercise was yet to start in many polling centres in Umuahia which he said is his stronghold.
He wondered why voting materials would not be available in polling centres around Umuahia where the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is situated.
Orji cried foul over the development and argued that INEC must add the five hours already lost before closing poll so as not to disenfranchise the enthusiastic voters for no fault of theirs.
” I am not happy with what is happening here. INEC, after causing high pretension for us last week following the botched elections has shown that it was not prepared for the exercise.
” My position is that my people should not be disenfranchised. INEC should allow the people to vote until the lost hours are recovered “.
The story is the same at Umuobasi polling unit where the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Johnson Onuigbo expressed total disappointment over the late commencement of voting.
He said voting started around 1:00 pm at the unit , alleging it was calculated at diminishing the electoral fortunes of the PDP that has a strong base in the area.
Onuigbo lamented that “elections were scheduled for 8:00am but only commenced around 1:pm.”
He said “we did not see some of the materials. Instead of ink they used pen to mark my thumbs.
“INEC has failed Nigerians. I wonder how the can conduct a credible poll “.
Adding his voice, the state Coordinator of Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, Chief Charles Ogbonna who also voted at the polling unit, blamed it all on the INEC electoral Officer who he accused of incompetence.
Ogbonna alleged that the EO compromised by swapping electoral materials in Umuahia North.
“The EO is the cause of the problem we have in Umuahia North. She mixed up materials to frustrate the elections. Materials meant for Ibeku were found at Amafo. “
Some voters also expressed sadness over the late commencement of the exercise.
Charles Offor told our Correspondent at Amuzukwu Girls Secondary School that the late commencement of the poll was intended to disenfranchise voters.
Some voters who prefered anonymity called on INEC to sit up in subsequent elections.
Meanwhile there was massive turn out of voters in all the polling units visited as enthusiastic voters defied the sun to cast their votes.
Our Correspondent observed however, that some voters were confused about their exact voting centre as they kept asking for direction to that effect.
It was also observed that the elections were generally peaceful through out the state as there were no reports of any security breach in any part of the state.
However there were complaints of late commencement of voting and non availability of materials in many parts of the state.
As at 2:30 pm, voting had not yet started in some parts of Umuahia including the polling unit at the Post Office opposite the Nigeria Union of Journalists , Press Centre Umuahia and Mission Hill.
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