#AnambraDecides2021: Yiaga wants INEC official, others sanctioned for electoral offences

Election observer group, Yiaga Africa, has called on the electoral umpire, INEC, to sanction one of its officers for allegedly conspiring to falsify results of Saturday’s Anambra governorship election.

Comfort Omoregie, an electoral officer, had allegedly compelled a returning officer, Michael Otu, for Orumba North Local Government Area to declare false results under duress, threat and coercion.

Mr Otu had accused some INEC officials attached to him of conniving with those who disrupted the process. He accused Mrs Omoregie of ‘manipulating’ the electoral process.

“My experience, I must say, was very pathetic. Well, I thank God that I am alive. I want to categorically, unequivocally tell you that there was no election to the best of my knowledge and with the evidence I am going to buttress herein,” he said.

It is not clear if Mrs Omoregie culpability has been established yet.

The election was declared inconclusive by INEC on Sunday night and a supplementary election has been scheduled for November 9 in Ihiala Local Government Area where elections did not hold.

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In its post-election press conference for the Anambra election, Yiaga said Mrs Omoregie and other staff accused of complicity with political actors and security agents to falsify election results, should be sanctioned.

The group also asked INEC to publish the total number of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collected in Ihiala LGA and inform the public on the status of uncollected PVCs.

These were some of the recommendations made by Yiaga at the conference.

It said INEC should undertake an audit of the BVAS and ensure all the technological glitches with the device are resolved ahead of the supplementary elections to prevent delays and possible disenfranchisement of voters.

“Sanction all its staff accused of complicity and conspiracy with political actors and security agents to falsify election, especially Mrs Comfort Omoregie, Electoral Officer for Orumba north involved in compelling the Returning Officer for the LGA to declare false results under duress.

“INEC should terminate its contractual relationship with road transport unions, especially those notorious for breach of contractual obligations. In addition to termination, INEC should seek legal remedies against transporters who are liable for breach of contract,” the Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu, said.

The security agencies were asked to maintain nonpartisan and professional conduct in the November 9, 2021 supplementary election and ensure strategic deployment to flashpoints polling units in Ihiala to guarantee the safety of voters, polling officials and materials during the supplementary election.

The agencies were also asked to investigate and prosecute all security personnel involved in gross misconduct and electoral fraud, especially the involvement of police officers in the reported incident in Orumba North LGA.

Yiaga further called on the National Assembly to conclude the amendment to the Electoral Act and transmit the Electoral Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

Earlier, Executive Director, Samson Itodo, noted that ”there were incidents against women during the polls”.

“Yiaga observers reported incidents of intimidation, harassment or violence towards women voters, polling officials, security, party agents or observers at seven per cent of polling units observed.

“Yiaga Africa also notes that in 26 per cent of polling units observed, there were no women polling officials and female presiding officers were sighted in only 38 per cent of polling units. Yiaga Africa implores INEC and security agencies to ensure safety for women voters and for INEC to ensure gender parity in its deployment of officials in electoral processes.”

The Anambra 2021 gubernatorial elections revealed the need for INEC to review its internal administrative processes and put in place sufficient safeguards and operational practices that guarantee free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections, he said.

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