Labour Party alleges plot to conduct election in ‘zero polling units’; INEC refutes claim

Mahmud Yakubu

The Labour Party in Imo has raised the alarm over an alleged plan by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hold the November 11 election in polling units with zero voter registration.

The Imo Labour Party chairman, Callistus Ihejiagwa, made the claim at a news briefing in Owerri on Thursday.

INEC designated 38 zero polling units in Imo, where there are no registered voters and elections are not expected to take place there.

Mr Ihejiagwa, who described the affected areas as APC catchment points, alleged that the electoral umpire was under pressure to conduct an election in those units.

The Labour Party leader said it would be a breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act and Electoral Guidelines for INEC to conduct elections in those areas.

“We have it on good authority that contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act and Electoral Guidelines, APC, in collaboration with INEC, has perfected plans to conduct elections at non-INEC designated elections venues and flashpoints in Orsu and some parts of Orlu LGAs,” noted the Labour Party chief. “The plan is to hide under the present state of insecurity to have elections in areas affected by violence and APC’s choice locations.”

Mr Ihejiagwa, therefore, called on the federal government, security agencies, the international community and other relevant stakeholders to investigate the allegations to ensure a free and fair electoral process in Imo.

The politician added, “We, hereby, draw the attention of the security agencies, INEC and federal authorities to this unfortunate development and insist that steps be taken to ensure that nothing is done to scuttle or compromise this all-important election in Imo state.

“We urge the international community, the human rights community, civil society groups and election observers to take note.”

When contacted, the INEC Head of Voter Education and Publicity, Emmanuella Ben-Opara, said the commission would not conduct an election in the 38 polling units with zero registration.

“There are 4,758 polling units in Imo, out of which the election will hold in 4,720. The remaining 38 will witness no election because they are zero polling units. This is the commission’s decision,” Ms Ben-Opara said.