Hoodlums invaded Technical College in Ideato North Local Council of Imo State, injuring scores of trainees and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s workers at the weekend.
They carted away electronic and other items belonging to the commission and intended ad-hoc workers from the venue of training for workers undergoing INEC’s recruitment process for the general elections.
A victim of the incident, Ngozi, told The Guardian that a large number of hoodlums, mostly youths invaded the hall scattering all items, beating participants, brandishing dangerous weapons and carted away materials.
Another trainee identified as Nwosu, said he was still tormented and short of words to describe the experience, but advised security agencies to beef up security in all the INEC’s location before, during and after the elections.
Confirming the development, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Professor Francis Ezeonu, said the incident happened at Ideato, adding that the hoodlums took away the public address system.
Ezeonu had warned at various fora that any malpractice would be detected given the security arrangement the commission was putting in place in the state.
He also disclosed that as at the time he was briefing, records available to him indicated that the number of registrants for voting had reduced from 600,000 to 547,017 uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) at INEC offices in the 27 local government areas of the state.
He urging the owners to go and pick their cards before February 8 when the PVCs would be quarantined and the registrants denied access to them until after the elections.
However, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), an elections monitoring group, has disclosed that sharing off money and gift items, especially during campaigns, remain a threat to the credibility of the forthcoming elections.
It also said the incidence of buying and selling of PVCs has remained unabated.
The group, in its third pre-election observation report titled: Has the Appetite for Electoral Integrity Dwindled?, said the trend was witnessed in almost all the 36 states of the federation.
The report revealed that PVCs were sold at a price between N5000 and N20000, adding that the South East has the highest reports of buying of PVCs, while the South-South zone has the highest incidences of voter inducement.
Meanwhile, INEC’s National Commissioner for Imo and Abia states, Professor Okey Ibeanu, has disclosed that the commission has received all necessary funds it required to conduct credible, free and fair polls.
Ibeanu, who made the disclosure during an interactive session with political parties’ chieftains and security officials in Owerri, stressed that the commission had received N189.2 billion as appropriated by the National Assembly for the conduct of the polls.
He explained that there were 120,000 polling units and 172,000 voting locations in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.