Twelve days to the commencement of the revalidation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) voters’ register, the PeoplesDemocratic Party (PDP), Enugu State chapter has threatened to drag the Commission to court over the disappearance of 621 booths in the state from its register.
The state PDP Chairman, Chief Vita Abba, who disclosed this yesterday at a press briefing, lamented that out of the 2,945 booths in Enugu State, 621 booths no longer exist in the INEC records, making him to cry foul.
The statistics of the “erased booths” he distributed to newsmen at the briefing showed that out of the 280 booths in the Nsukka Local Government Area, 230 booths were missing from the INEC record.
Other local government areas that were highly affected in the missing booths are Igbo-Etiti, 190; Nkanu-West, 148; Igbo-Eze North, 25; Enugu East, 20 while Governor Sullivan Chime’s Udi council has two.
Looking at the statistics, Abba lamented that the Enugu North Senatorial zone that should produce the next governor after Chime has been totally disenfranchised.
His words: “Nsukka Local Government population-wise is among the first biggest local government in Nigeria and as I am talking to you today out of 280 booths in Nsukka LGA, 230 booths no longer exist in INEC records. PDP in Enugu State will take Jega and his people to court, they cannot rig the election before the election, what is happening now is for people not to be able to come out to give support to one of their own, it is a way of stealing our mandate from the backdoor.
“Some people have in the past said that it will be over their dead body for the Enugu North Senatorial zone to produce the governor of the state and we have seen the handwriting on the wall that these people are going through the backdoor to disenfranchise the Nsukka people, the Igbo-Etiti people and all the local governments in Nsukka have been short-changed and we feel it is a matter we have to let the public to know.
“The PDP as a political party has critically studied the documents released by INEC and wants to alert the public that there is a grand plan, a collusion between INEC officials and politicians to derail democracy in Enugu State. It has become necessary to alert the public because any act of this nature will be totally and vehemently opposed by our teeming supporters and electorate of Enugu State.
“It has come to our notice that INEC in collusion with politicians is trying to deny the people of Enugu State their voting rights, it has never happened anywhere in the world that you have a voter’s card; I have my voter’s card and I used it in 2011 and suddenly in 2014 from the documents released, over 40 per cent of voters in Enugu State have been erased in INEC’s list, this is not acceptable by our party and we feel that this is a collusion, a deliberate act to derail democracy to change the course of our political system, to change the power zoning arrangement in our state.”
Abba argued that the level of ICT development in the country is so high that the excuses INEC gave are not tenable, saying that if INEC could not resolve the Enugu problem, it may well be asking Nigerians to go back to the analogue system.
“Some politicians must have colluded with INEC officials to divert or hide our data and voters’ cards,” the chairman insisted.
He pointed out that the documents the INEC is claiming to be missing are already public documents, advising the body to get the soft copies or photocopies of the documents, which he said were used during the local government election last year in the state by the State Independent Electoral Commission.
“They are available, if they need a copy they should come to us and we will give it to them to update their data, we cannot tolerate asking our people to come for an exercise that had adjudged concluded, tested and applied like I showed you my own voter’s card and now suddenly realised that I’m no longer an eligible voter,” he said.
According to him, there was no way the five days, beginning from May 28 to June 1, given by INEC for a fresh registration exercise would be okay for the disenfranchised electorate in the state.
When contacted the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu State, Dr Lawrence Azubuike, he explained that what happened was caused by INEC central data automation in Abuja, where the machine detected certain errors that needed to be corrected before permanent cards would be issued to the voters between May 23 and 25.
He disclosed that 10 states in the federation were affected in the continuous registration exercise, including Enugu and Abia states in the South East.
He, therefore, said that the Commission has no sinister motive whatesoever as claimed by Abba, saying that if they have any ulterior motive they would not have been sensitising the public to come out during the exercise to register again.