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Corps members molested and maltreated in RAC centers and INEC offices in Rivers State

Members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), deployed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the 2019 general election, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the commission over the late announcement of the election’s postponement.

The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, announced the postponement of the presidential poll in the early hours of Saturday morning, the day the elections were originally scheduled to hold. In a statement released by the commission, Professor Mahmood announced that that election will no longer hold as a result of logistics challenges.

“Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible,” the statement notes.

A corps member identified as John narrated his ordeal to our correspondent. “The list for INEC posting in Etche local government was [provided] to corps members around 2 pm on Saturday and the LGI instructed those who could not find their names on the list to come over to the INEC office at Okehi while others thought they were to gather at their various RAC centres but, to their surprise, another broadcast sent by the CLO from the LGI said that all the corps members are expected to gather at the office too.

We got there and were left unattended to by the INEC officials because I thought we were asked to come so as to receive our training allowance but the opposite was the case as supervisory presiding officers started calling attendance by wards so that those present can have their names and phone numbers written on another sheet different from the printed one by INEC.”

Another corps member from the same local government said: “What I saw yesterday was a complete eyesore to the reputation of NYSC, INEC and the country as a whole because how can a body, who said they are ready to conduct the election, now drop the bomb at the 11th hour? To imagine that you went for training and the electoral officials decided to hoard the list till 2 pm on the eve of the election without proper communication. As if that was not enough, about one-third of the people who attended the training could not find their names while some names appeared twice or thrice as the case may be. The accommodation arrangement by INEC gave room for evil perpetrators to creep in and do what they do best.

We were never informed of the postponement of the election, it was as if we were put in the dark until buses [that] were supposed to convey corps members to their respective registration area centres (RACs) started leaving one after the other around 1 am; that was what raised people’s consciousness and we started looking for the reasons for their actions online until we eventually saw the report.”

In a message sent by the LGI of Etche local government in Rivers State to corps members in Etche, Mr Andrew Ajayi, he lamented that over a hundred names of corps members who participated in the INEC intensive training, spending their time, money and energy were not included in the list.

“The list released by INEC is filled with people who don’t know how to operate card readers serving as assistant presiding officers I (APO I) and presiding officers respectively. We were not well catered for at the INEC office at Okehi as corps members were forced to sleep on mats and a corps member was robbed of his phone and punched in his face,” he narrated.

It was also gathered by our CAMPUS REPORTER reporter that corps members were robbed of their various gadgets and beaten while they slept outside INEC office in Okehi, Rivers State. A security man in the area also claimed that he was hacked with a machete, by a gang of three people who wanted to steal his phone. Another report also indicated that a girl was sexually harassed within the vicinity.

A corps member posted to Ibadan south east local government in Oyo state who pleaded anonymity, said: “Provisions were not made for us at the RAC centre, no sufficient mats and buckets. I didn’t sleep until this morning, around 3 am and was awake at 4 am. If the election had held, as the presiding officer of my unit, I won’t have had up to 3 hours of sleep and will still have to preside over the election in my unit for the whole day.

Corps members in Rivers State also complained of unpaid allowances by INEC. In a telephone conversation with the state coordinator, Mr Chinwedu Chukwu, about the situation, he noted that he is not in the position to answer and the INEC officials in the state should be held responsible for the payment of allowances. However, all efforts to get through to the state electoral officer proved abortive as his lines were unresponsive.

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