INEC cries out as gunmen abduct staffers during Imo bye-election

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has voiced worry over the kidnapping of some of its ad hoc personnel in Imo state.

Prof. Francis Ezeonu, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, called on security agents to ensure the safe return of its members of staff at a press conference in Owerri on Saturday.

He said the ad-hoc staff members were dispatched to Imo’s Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area for the state’s House of Assembly bye-election, where they were kidnapped by unknown gunmen.

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Ezeonu claimed he had also received distress calls from certain members of the commission’s staff who were being held captive and forced to thumbprint vote papers and manipulate the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

He stated that while polls had closed in the constituency election across the local government, there were occurrences of violence and disruption of the process in several polling units.

He explained that the abductees’ rescue operations were still ongoing, and he urged security agents to keep up the pace and ensure the safe release of INEC employees who were still held captive.

“We’ve received a distress call from some of our ad hoc staff who were kidnapped, blindfolded, and taken to unknown destinations.”

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“They are being compelled to thumbprint voting papers, and our situation room has received several phone calls alluding to the same.”

“We wish to reassure the general public that results manufactured from unknown places will not be collated and the number of votes cast must tally with the number of accredited voters as shown by the BVAS for such results to be authenticated.

“Therefore, any persons involved in such act of falsification are chasing the wind,” he stated.

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While urging residents to stay calm, Ezeonu also urged law enforcement agencies to beef up security to guarantee a smooth collation of results.

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