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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Election preparations marred in Bayelsa as INEC official abducted, boat with voting materials capsizes

Challenges mount as electoral official kidnapped and boat carrying election personnel capsizes, losing vital materials

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In a troubling turn of events, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reported the abduction of one of its officials in the Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. According to Wilfred Ifogah, the head of INEC voters’ registration in the state, the official was kidnapped while waiting to board a boat at the jetty.

The unfortunate incident doesn’t stand alone; Ifogah further revealed that a boat transporting election personnel and materials to the southern Ijaw Local Government Area (LGA) capsized, resulting in the loss of crucial result sheets.

In a statement from Ifogah on the verified X account on Friday night, the details of the dual incidents unfolded. “We wish to confirm that a boat carrying election personnel to registration area 17 (Koluama) in southern Ijaw LGA capsized,” the statement disclosed. Fortunately, all 12 election personnel and the boat operator were rescued, but the aftermath included the loss of result sheets, power banks, and the personal effects of the staff.

The affected registration areas account for 5,368 registered voters and 5,311 collected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). Despite the setbacks, INEC is actively working to ensure the conduct of elections in the affected areas.

The challenges extended to Sagbama LGA as well, where the Statement of Poll (SPO) assigned to registration area 06 (Ossioma) was reportedly abducted while waiting to board at Amassoma jetty. The security agencies have been notified, as indicated in the statement, marking a disturbing series of events leading up to the elections in Bayelsa State.

As the election preparations are marred by these incidents, concerns arise about the security and integrity of the electoral process in the region. INEC faces an uphill battle to overcome these obstacles and proceed with the scheduled elections, all while ensuring the safety and well-being of its officials.

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