NIGERIA’S APRIL 2011 GENERAL ELECTIONS; INEC LOSES 117
BALLOT BOXES TO SNATCHERS.
The much awaited Nigeria’s April general elections suffered initial set backs when senate and house of representative elections billed for April 2, 2011 was cancelled. This was due to the late arrival of sensitive electoral materials to various polling units across the country. However, the country’s independent electoral commission chairman, prof. Attahiru jega apologies to the entire nation through a nationwide broadcast and reschedule the elections timetable, which will now commence by April 9, 2011.
Then comes the big day, April 9, 2011.the date set for the senatorial and House of Representatives elections. As usual, majority of Nigerians troupe out in their huge numbers to obey their fatherland and perform their civic responsibilities only to be greeted with wide arrear of electoral frauds. One begins to wonder where both the international and local elections observers get their reports and clips of a free and fair election in Nigeria.
Basking in the euphoria of encomiums trailing last weekend’s national assembly elections, the leadership of the independent national electoral commission (INEC) met with resident electoral commissioners (RECs) of the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja. The commission used the meeting to take stock with a view to plugging all loopholes identified during the national assembly elections. A similar meeting he said would be held with the leadership of the 63 registered political parties, organized civil society groups and security operatives before the presidential polls.
A reputable national daily, the guardian newspaper, reported of numerous electoral offences. No fewer than 117 ballot boxes were stolen across the country during the national assembly elections, chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, kayoed idowu, has disclosed. He said the commission was leaving no stone unturned to fish out the perpetrators of the theft of its materials, no matter how highly placed, adding that no INEC official would be spared if found to have connived with politicians to sabotage the electoral process.
However, idowu, who spoke in Abuja, assured that the commission would be better prepared to foil such malpractices in subsequent polls, starting with the presidential election billed for Saturday, April 16, 2011.
Nevertheless, chairman, inter-party advisory council, (IPAC), Emmanuel okereke, charged INEC to address issues bordering on ballot snatching and alleged indiscipline by some members of the national youths service corps (NYSC) serving the commission as ad hoc staff. Large scale incidence of ballot boxes snatching were witnessed and reported in states like Bayelsa, Imo, Rivers and Akwa ibom states