By Lawrence Njoku
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of using “deliberate effort” to disfranchise Igbo in the 2019 general elections.
President-General of the organisation, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who stated this yesterday when the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu State, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, paid him a courtesy visit, alleged that virtually all states in the South-East zone have recorded shortage of registration materials in the ongoing Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise.
Nwodo stated that he had visited many registration centres and had come to the conclusion that the South-East might be disenfranchised in the coming elections.
“I am of the conclusion that INEC has deliberately denied registration materials in order to ensure that we are under-registered. I say this not because I am the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo but I say this as a lawyer who respects evidence,” he said.
He said that the machines deployed to the zone for the registration exercise were slow, obsolete and inadequate and would not compare with the ones deployed to northern part of the country for the ongoing exercise.
Using Ukehe in Igbo-etiti Local Council as an instance, Nwodo said: “The booth has between 18 and 20 polling booths which are registration booths. Now, there was only one machine in my ward; that one machine is in my registration area and unlike the machines I saw in the North, which captures five fingers instantaneously. The machine in my registration area can only capture one finger at a time and it is two polling booths in one side and therefore it should be two registration centres but there was only one registration machine.
Nwodo added that Ohanaeze was prepared to give logistics to INEC to register people who turned out for the exercise.
Meanwhile, Ononamadu said the visit was part of the organisation’s outreach to critical stakeholders in election process, which Ohanaeze Ndigbo was part of.
He said: “But we need a lot of opportunities to do more before 2019 elections. One of our major objectives is to build trust among critical stakeholders and also to create that openness of sharing of information so that every stakeholder can be on the same page before, during and after elections. This we have tried to do using the party structures, the traditional leadership, the president-generals of which we held numerous meetings with before now to enable us understand the key problems and the challenges that will confront us now and in 2019 so that we begin to work on them as early as possible.”