The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has admitted that some members of staff of the commission have been compromised by politicians with a view to rigging the October 20 governorship election in Ondo State.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akin Orebiyi, said the state police command had arrested a junior staff of the commission who gave out unclaimed voters’ cards to a chieftain of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Olaolu Oladapo, and his wife who were also apprehended last Saturday.
The couple was apprehended in Ondo, the home town of the LP’s governorship candidate and incumbent governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.
A statement by the INEC boss yesterday said the commission would cooperate with the state police command to investigate and prosecute those who were found to be involved in the matter.
Orebiyi said: “The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to the arrest of a man with over a thousand voters’ cards issued by the commission purportedly given to him by a junior staff engaged as a security man by the commission, who has been arrested by the police.
“Preliminary investigation by the commission indicates that some people did not collect their voters’ cards after the registration exercise of 2011. The unclaimed cards are in the custody of the Electoral Officers, who are the duly authorised officials to release same to the claimants of such cards, who must collect them in person.”
Promising a thorough investigation and commitment to prosecute anyone found culpable, irrespective of status or affiliation, the INEC boss, however, said: “INEC will however like to take this opportunity to re-assure the public that the purchase or unauthorised acquisition of voters’ cards by desperate politicians will be to no avail, as they cannot be used for the election. Our officials have been trained and directed to closely examine each voters’ card scrupulously and ensure that the photographs on it match that on the voters’ register and is in exact liking to the bearer of such card.”
Orebiyi, who commended the Ondo State Command of the Nigeria Police, promised that “we shall continue to co-operate with them and the other security agents and other stakeholders to ensure a hitch-free exercise.”
But National Mirror gathered that top officials of INEC were involved in the sales of voters’ cards to politicians and that Orebiyi only held the unnamed security man responsible in order to save the credibility of the commission.
The INEC boss was said to have earlier denied that the security man was a staff of the commission, a statement in conflict with the claim of the state Public Relation Officer of INEC, Celina Beckley.