Friday, June 13, 2014

Fake ballot boxes, voting materials intercepted in Ekiti

Jega INECA truck load of imported fake ballot boxes was intercepted yesterday by soldiers at Ita-Awure in Efon Local Government Area of Ekiti State.  Sources said the soldiers on Ita Awure – Ilesha Road seized the truck together with its two occupants at about 11am.
Briefing journalists in Ado-Ekiti, the Brigade Commander, 32 Artillery Brigade, Akure, Brig. Gen. Aliyu Momoh, said his men at a check-point stopped the suspects, who could not explain how they got the boxes.
The suspects are Ose, Akanbi and Erinfolami (surnames withheld).
The men were driving a Mercedes Benz truck marked Lagos APP 952 XL.
Materials found in the vehicle included ballot papers, rubber stamps, ink pads, reflective jackets bearing the Independent National Electoral Commission among others.
The rubber stamps and ink pads bore 2014, but some of the ballot papers bore 2007 election and 2009 re-run governorship election marks.
Gen. Momoh, who said his men were not in the state to harass or molest anybody, warned against any attempt to foment trouble.
“We are not here to intimidate or harass anybody, but we want to warn that whoever thinks he would foment trouble will be dealt with severely.
“You only need to have your voter’s card and use your thumb to print the appropriate area on the ballot paper, whoever goes to the voting unit with any offensive weapon would be brought down,” he said.
One of the suspects, Ose, said he was contacted by somebody in Lagos to help convey beans to Akure and that it was there that another person asked him to come over to Ado-Ekiti and help him convey some waste items.
“We got here yesterday and a vehicle was loaded before our vehicle started loading in the early hours of Thursday,” he explained.
Asked where his truck was loaded, Ose said it was at INEC office in Ado-Ekiti.
When contacted, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Alhaji Halilu Pai, said the materials were waste items.
“Those materials are what we call waste papers that have been auctioned to people. The materials were approved for the firm to dispose for us to prepare for the coming election. The company has the approval of the national headquarters of INEC,” he added.
On the presence of rubber stamps and ink pads for the 2014 poll in the materials, Pai said there was no way they could have been there.
The REC said his office got approval from Abuja on April 3, this year to auction the materials and blamed the firm that got the job for coming late to pick them.
He also denied any compromise on the part of INEC and its staff.
He said INEC did not think it necessary to inform security agencies on the movement of the materials.
Accusation and counter-accusation are trailing the seizure, even as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr Ayodele Fayose and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are calling for full investigation.
In a statement issued by the Director General of the Ayo Fayose Campaign Organisation (AFCO), Chief Dipo Anisulowo, the governorship candidate said: “It is curious that two commissioners in the state rushed to where the truck was seized to intervene and get it freed with the occupants.”
Fayose has called for investigation into the importation of the fake ballot papers, accusing the APC of involvement, saying: “The arrest of a truck loaded with ballot papers at Ita-Awure by soldiers is a vindication of our stand that the APC was planning to rig the election.”
The Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation has also called for a thorough investigation. Its spokesman, Dimeji Daniels, had also urged security agencies to be on the look out for agents of rigging
His words: “APC does not have the culture of rigging. We know many plans are being put in motion and hatched by the opposition to rig this election because the opposition knows it is not popular and not on ground at all. This is why no stone should be left unturned in preventing agents of retrogression from taking Ekiti back 100 years like they did between 2003 and 2006.”