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IPAC demands probe into Plateau election materials theft

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The Inter-Party Advisory Council has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to fish out those behind the sudden disappearance of ballot papers meant for certain areas during the Saturday rerun election in Plateau State and prosecute them accordingly.

IPAC said unless such actions were taken, perpetrators of electoral fraud would continue to shortchange the people’s will in Nigeria’s democratic practice, thereby giving the electoral umpire a bad image.

Party leaders in Plateau state and members of IPAC led by its state chairman, Abubakar Dogara, made the demand during a stakeholder meeting with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, which was held at the INEC headquarters in Jos on Saturday night.

The meeting was called at the instance of the  INEC National Commissioner, Mohammed Haruna, and the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Plateau state, Dr Oliver Agundu.

The PUNCH had reported that the rerun election conducted by INEC for Plateau North Senatorial district and Bassa/Jos North federal constituency were marred mainly by voter apathy and ballot papers shortage.

In some of the polling units, some INEC officials were held hostage by angry voters who wanted to cast their ballot but could not due to a shortage of ballot papers.

The development had forced the electoral body to postpone the re-run elections in 13 polling units of Tudun Wada/Kabong Ward and three other polling units in Naraguta B Ward, all in  Jos North LGA, till Sunday.

During the meeting, the state chairman of  IPAC insisted that those responsible for the missing ballot papers should not be allowed to go scot-free.

Dogara said, “We want to emphasise that those behind it (carting away ballot papers) must be prosecuted.

Another party leader, David Dabit of the Labour Party, added, “Things like this have been happening, and nothing has been done.

“We have been calling the Electoral officer for Jos North LGA, Fred Ogboji, but he won’t pick up his calls.

“We want to tell you that every time there is an election in Jos North  LGA; there used to be a problem in Tudun Wada/Kabong Ward and Naraguta B Ward. Why must it be so?

“Thoroughly, let something be done about it because we can not continue like this going forward ”

Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Oliver Agundu, told the party leaders that the commission was surprised to learn of the disappearance and shortage of ballot papers meant for some areas during the rerun polls.

“From our record, no concern about a shortage of ballot papers was raised when they were distributed at the CBN office in Jos. On  Friday, the eve of the election, no one reported to us that they observed any shortages.

“Even today (Saturday), no one called us to that until later when people started raising concerns, but this is an attitude that we can not condone.

“No matter what it will take, the commission will ensure that the right thing is done, and no constituency will feel disenfranchised because every eligible voter will participate,” the REC assured.

Meanwhile, the collation of results in the various polling units where the Saturday rerun was held without hitches continued on Sunday while the re-scheduled re-rerun elections in the affected 16 polling units of Jos North with over 400,000 voter population have equally commenced and are expected to end by 3:30 pm.

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