Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Revealed: How INEC C'River plans to defraud FG, frustrate Cross Riverians

Ukorebi Esien | 2th February 2019

According to information reaching our newsroom, there is a secret plan by the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Cross River State to defraud the Federal Government as it prepares to conduct the first round of the nation's general elections come Saturday 23rd February 2019.

According to the source who is pleading anonymity, the election umpire were suppose to employ four ad-hoc staff of different category and functions in each polling unit, those staff consist of the Presiding Officer (PO) and Assistant Presiding Officers (APO 1, 2 and 3). Making it four INEC ad-hoc staff in each polling unit. 

These staff all have various functions to perform during the elections, which are but not limited to:

PO: Over sees the entire polling units as well as stamp and sign ballot papers. 

APO 1: Works with the card reader machine to authentic PVC's 

APO2: Verifies electorates names in the INEC register of that polling unit to ensure they were actually register to vote in that unit. 

APO3: Helps to control the crowd in the queue to ensure orderliness and peaceful electoral process. He also confirms if the electorate are to vote in that polling unit by confirming if there PVC belongs to the polling unit. 

The source revealed that this was what they were told during the training. But surprisingly when the list of INEC ad-hoc staff was released, the position of APO 3 was conspicuously missing except for Calabar South, Calabar Municipality and Obudu Local Government Areas.

It is believed that the over 180 billion Naira budget approved by the National Assembly for this year's elections had made provisions for the position of APO 3 in all the 777 local government areas in the country. Judging by what is ongoing in Cross River State, one begins to wonder why the Cross River State Resident Electoral Commissioner would want to exclude such a sensitive position from the list of ad-hoc staff to be deployed to the various polling units?

If the polling units in the state do not have APO 3s, how will the crowd be controlled? What happens to the allowances budgeted for APO 3s? Who gave the directives that the other 15 local government areas should have three ad-hoc staff per polling unit?

These and many more are questions begging for answers as we approach the forthcoming general elections in the state. 

In a related development, the election umpire has also been accused of frustrating Cross Riverians who had applied and were trained as ad-hoc staff as there are strong indications that there are some shady deals ongoing within INEC with many aggrieved applicants for the commission's ad-hoc staff position had crying out for help.

Explianing to TDN one of the affected applicants said "My name appeared on their portal that I have been selected as an APO, and deployed to Biase Local Government Area in Cross River State, I went to the office and didn't see my name pasted on the wall, we were later asked to go to our respective local government areas of deployement. I paid my way to Biase only to be told that I have not been selected".

"We registered and went for the training, but our names are not on the list – we've been checking since morning and I think the system is being compromised.

"How will they train us and later shortlist different persons, or, is INEC up to something fishy? It's bad how corrupt our system is and I hope it serve them well," 

"We suffered to travel to Boki, Akpabuyo and Calabar for the training, yet, our names were substituted; even the persons that trained us were not shortlisted".

These and many more were what some of the frustrated applicants complained to CALABAR REPORTERS on Friday in Calabar.

When confronted with all these allegations, a senior staff of the commission who is familiar with the story, but pleaded anonymity since they have not been authorised to speak on the issue, told our Correspondent that, "they were over 15,000 ad-hoc staff deployed by the commission to conduct last Saturday's elections in the state. But unfortunately the elections didn't hold". 

"And due to all the complains received so far, the commission has decided to discard the former list that was used last week and a new list is likely to be published tomorrow (21st February 2019) that will capture all those that were previously trained for the job".

The staff however, denied knowledge of any portal or website where names of successful applicants was been published. On the issue of APO 3 not captured in about 15 local government areas in the last deployment of ad-hoc staff carried out in the state, our source believes all that will be sorted out in the new list that will be published tomorrow. 

TDN, however learnt that the many irregularities that transpired with the list of INEC ad-hoc staff published last week has actually landed a senior staff, in fact a Director of the Commission in serious trouble as he was fingered to be involved in the shady deals, according to the grapevine source who pleaded that his identity be kept in the dark, "the director may likely loss his job or be disciplined by the commission, as he will definitely not go unpunished".