© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Ad-hoc staff who served in the 2019 General Elections accuse INEC of withholding half payment
SOME of the ad-hoc staff who served during the 2019 General Elections in Enugu State have accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of refusing to pay balances of their allowances since the election exercise ended a year ago.
Adinde Jonathan, who served as Assistant Polling Officer (APO II), Udi Local Government, told The ICIR that it took a protest by some of his colleagues at INEC office for the commission to pay them half payments.
“Some of us that worked as ad-hoc staff in Enugu during the last general elections have not received our complete payment. I worked as APO II at ST. Theresa Uwani I (Polling Unit 006, Voting point A), Amokwe Udi Ward, Udi L.G.A., Enugu State.
“At some point, some of us were not paid at all. We went to INEC Enugu Zonal Office to complain and they gave us forms to fill promising they would pay us in two weeks time. Months have gone and yet no payment. They kept giving us form to fill each time we went there to complain.
“At a point some people tried to stage a protest. Some were paid after that. Security officials stopped us eachtime we go there. They would tell us to go since we have filled the form to complain, that we would be paid. At a point they claimed they have paid some of us including me which was not true. They asked us submit our bank account statement. I had to submit my bank account statement.
“Eventually, I was paid for the presidential election in August, 2019, three months after I submitted the account statement. No other payment after that. I couldn’t go to their office anymore because I had a road traffic accident and broke my knee. During that time, I was calling my SPO and EO and they kept promising me. I was able to go there again with crutches in December, 2019. I went to the account section and they told me to meet my EO. Luckily, I saw my EO there and she told me to send her my details through sms for her to check on her records if my name was among those that she submitted to the commissioner for payment.
“She later confirmed that my name was there. Since then nothing has happened. No payment has been made. What they are owing me is a total of N17,500.”
He said when he visited the commission in February this year to complain, he was told the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), has taken over the case as there have been alleged cases of embezzlement of money for the election.
“In February this year, I went to INEC Enugu Zonal office again and I was told that the case has been taken over by EFCC. That after compiling names of the affected ad-hoc staff for payment, the authority in charge refused to sign it with a reason that INEC Enugu Zonal office have exhausted the money meant for the payment of the adhoc staff in Enugu state.
“It was alleged that they replaced the names of those that actually worked with some names and account numbers of people that did not work and paid them. It was also alleged that some adhoc staff were mistakenly over paid. According to the source, the case was reported to EFCC who demanded for the records and took over everything.”
“It is painful that after suffering, sleeping in an open field on cold nights including the first day the election was postponed, going to the field to face political thugs and agents, delivering our duties bravely, this ugly story will emanate under the watch of a government that claims it is fighting corruption.
“In February, INEC Nigeria responded to me on messenger after I have sent many messages which they did not respond to. They said they would verify what I complained about. I have written to them to know the outcome but as usual, they have not responded,” he said.
Corroborating Jonathan’s narrative, Chibuzor Vitalif, told The ICIR that he was only paid for the presidential election and allowances for the governorship election have not been paid. He said when they complained, they were asked to submit the statement of their accounts which they did but the commission has not gotten back to them since then.
When contacted, the Electoral Officer (EO) in-charge of Udi Local Government, Mrs. Ejimofor, told The ICIR that she is not in position to make comments on the matter.
Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi said he could not answer call when The ICIR called yesterday. But he also didn’t respond to SMS sent to him at 6:50 pm.