INEC cancels rerun in Cross River ward over missing ballot papers, confirms release of abducted official
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has canceled the rerun election in eight polling units of Afafanyi/Igonigoni Ward in Cross River State.
In a statement on Saturday, the electoral body explained that it took the decision as a result of the violence recorded in the ward.
“INEC does not reward impunity/violence,” the statement said, noting that one of its officials was abducted by armed men.
It added, “Election was not conducted in eight polling units of the riverine area, Afafanyi/Igonigoni Ward due to kidnap of the Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPO) and hijack of election materials by gunmen.
“The rerun elections into Yakurr/Abi Federal and Abi State Constituencies held across 25 out of the 33 units of the court-ordered rerun elections in Cross River State.”
INEC, however, said the kidnapped victim later regained freedom from his abductors while the gunmen refused to release the sensitive and non-sensitive materials in their possession.
The violent incident, according to INEC hampered the conduct of the rerun poll in 8 units of the ward with 5,616
voters, resulting in the cancellation of the election in the ward.
A statement issued by INEC at about 9 pm says the kidnapped SPO has however been released but not with electoral materials that included sensitive and nonsensitive materials. The lost items listed include 9 smart card readers, 5616 ballot papers, result sheets, etc.
It said some National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members on election duty were also robbed of their mobile phones and cash.
INEC confirmed that no life was lost during the incident, but a policeman was injured.
“With headcount in the office, all staff deployed to the riverine communities of Afafanyi/Igonigoni have returned safely,” the statement said.
In other parts of the state where the election held, the electoral body revealed that close monitoring and supervision by a team of officials witnessed a large turnout of voters in the various polling units.
The team, however, identified some challenges such as poor network to facilitate the smooth running of the smart card reader and the refusal of voters to adhere to queuing instructions.