By Jonathan Ugbal
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have breached some rules in its last Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) in Cross River State CrossRiverWatch findings reveal.
The CVR was carried out in all 18 local government headquarters excluding Bakassi which has seen its headquarters shut for an undisclosed time with Obudu, the hometown of the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade recording the highest turnout with over 7,000 people registered.
But, the EO there was accused of collecting NGN200 from eligible voters who came in to register.
“I even went there to tell her to stop but she continued,” a government official who pleaded anonymity told this reporter.
“They were factored into a special budget to ensure that work goes on smoothly for them,” another appointee who preferred to be identified as Christian told CrossRiverWatch.
Mr. Ayade had released over a hundred million Naira to mobilize residents to go out and vote with the state House of Assembly members, Commissioners, at least one Special Adviser, one Director General or Chairman of Board, one Senior Special Assistant and one Special Assistant in each local government given money to “mobilize” their constituents.
The announcement was also put up on social media, and the state owned broadcasting corporation, CRBC.
But, the EO, Uduak Johnson denies this allegations and said it was a bad coin to be repaid with as she was steadfast in the discharge of her duties which saw her leave office as late as 9:00 PM daily.
“That allegation is false and blasphemy. I don’t know, I don’t have any idea, and if such happened.
“I am one E.O that since I was posted to that Local Government and I resumed on the 21st of June, there is no day I was absent from duty. From 21st June to 20th July that I ended up registration, I was always in my office, sometimes I will close by 9.00pm,” Mrs. Uduak said.
She denied that government officials contacted her to assist them or told her to stop collecting money.
“Nobody ever contacted me about the issue for me to confront my staff. I was always in my office so how come this one now? ”
“I know the number of mosquitoe bites I had when I was there, I know how I was suffering to stay in my office, so I coordinated what I did, I don’t think this is a good pay back,” she said.
When asked whether she had knowledge of any of her staff collecting money, she said she never knew about it and wondered why she was not contacted and no complaint laid when the exercise was ongoing.
“Please, I have never asked anybody to collect and I am not aware of any body collecting any money. It is not me,” she said.
Our correspondent reports that they went round the 10 wards for the exercise.
But, an old voter, Assang Agba from Utugwang who went with a 17 year old minor told CrossRiverWatch that there was an “entertainment package.”
“You know my family too well and my younger brother Andorbe is barely 17 but he registered.
“They were skeptical at first about his size but when they heard him speak, they just allowed him after paying something for their entertainment,” Assang told CrossRiverWatch on phone.
In Boki and Yakurr, there were allegations that due to political interests, some under age residents were registered to increase the voting population.
However, CrossRiverWatch could not verify these claims independently.
In Bakassi, CrossRiverWatch findings revealed the exercise was carried out at an office in Ikot Effiom IDP camp with no confirmed report of extortion or underage people being registered.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Frankland Biriyai had announced that 73,000 new voters were added to the register in the state with about 10 percent of that recorded in Obudu which saw over 7,000 people registered followed by Yakurr at over 6,000 people.
CrossRiverWatch Ikwen Atuaka, Frank Edima, Odey Ojeka and Violet Fanseh contributed to this report.
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.