By Okon Bassey in Uyo
Eighteen National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were last Saturday kidnapped in the process of conducting the presidential and National Assembly elections in Akwa Ibom State.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini, disclosed this yesterday while fielding questions from journalists in his office.
He said 10 of the corps members were abducted at Abak Local Government Area (LGA), four corps members kidnapped in Itu LGA; four other corps members abducted in Ikono LGA while another set of two corps members were invited to the state Police Command headquarters.
Igini hinted that while some of the kidnapped corps members had since be rescued following intervention by security operatives, adding that the two corps members invited to the state police headquarters were released when he intervened.
Similarly, Igini made further disclosed that in Uran LGA, a University of Uyo lecturer, Mr. Kufre Etuk, escaped death as he was badly bartered with his head broken. Kufre who escaped from the hoodlums reportedly slept in the bush that night until the following morning when he found his way out.
Also, the REC pointed out that at the federal collation centre in Ukanafun LGA, there was threat of attack of the INEC officials but security had to be beefed up to secure the environment and another enforcement of security dispatched to the Ikot Ekpene collation centre.
He further explained that in Ikono LGA, materials for 10 out of 11 wards in the area were smashed and destroyed by political thugs.
According to him, “In places where there are issues of ballot boxes snatching, there will be no result from those areas. No result can emanate from any polling unit with issues of stuffing of ballots and snatching.”
Igini had in a statement to all the Electoral Officers (EOs) said: “In view of all negative reports of violence, fraudulent and forceful results, abductions of poll staff, ballot box snatching among others, due and diligent attention must be given to the filling of Form 40G series.
“This means that constantly, EOs must insist on taking all field reports made and captured by the Commission Electoral Operations Support Centre (EOSC) of snatched results sheets and ballot.
“Study all necessary 40Gs and be mindful not to issue forms EC 8D (1), EC 8E (1), EC 8D (II), and EC 8E (II) without taking into reports of all 40Gs.
“No results can emanate from polling units, wards and LGAs where there had been previous reports of serious violent attacks of poll officials many of whom are still being rescued particularly corps members and snatching of results and ballot papers taken to unknown places.
“The integrity of the process leading to a declaration of results and return must go through due process and laid down procedure. There are severe consequences under the law for deviation, and so be guided.”
Meanwhile, the Akwa Ibom State Police Command has denied knowledge of abduction of any corps members during the conduct of the election in the state.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Odiko MacDon, said: “I am not aware of any abduction. There was no abduction. I just spoke with state NYSC coordinator, and there is no report of any corps members missing anywhere.
“We have not received any report that they were abducted. While on patrol last Saturday with the Commissioner of Police and other service chiefs, we saw some corps members who left their duty posts on the claims that one or two persons were trying to invade their polling unit, we took them back to continue with their work. No corps member was abducted.”