THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Imo State is running behind schedule in the distribution of voting materials to the 27 local government areas as the sorting which ought to have been concluded on Thursday was still being conducted by Friday afternoon at the state’s branch of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The ICIR reporter and some other journalists were denied access to the CBN’s premises where the materials were being sorted, though some journalists were earlier permitted to witness the activities.
Francis Ezeonu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Imo State, told journalists that the delay was caused by incomplete materials that the state first received and the sheer number of contestants for the national assembly seats.
He said the remaining materials arrived the state on Friday morning and sorting was completed Friday afternoon.
Already, teams of police officers were waiting outside the CBN premises to accompany the sensitive voting materials to the local governments for Saturday’s presidential and national assembly elections.
Ezeonu said the materials would be further distributed overnight to the registration area centres to ensure that accreditation and voting commence at the appropriate in all the polling units.
He said INEC officials and ad hoc staff would be spending the night at the registration area centres where they would move to their various polling units in the morning.
So far, there has not been any complaints by the agents of the political parties that witnessed the sorting of the voting materials.
Around the INEC office which is close to CBN branch office, security has been beefed up. The busy Port Harcourt road has been barricaded by the police around the INEC office and vehicles were being diverted to alternative routes.
Members of the civil society organisations who spoke to The ICIR believed that the election would be generally peaceful in the state but pointed out that Ohaji Egbema and Oguta local government areas would likely be the flash points because the areas have had previous cases of electoral violence.