Nigeria Decides 2023

Vote-Starved Electorate Hold 3 INEC Ad-hoc Staff Hostage In Warri

Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting

ANGRY voters, who have been disenfranchised in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State in Saturday presidential poll, are holding hostage three ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The trio of Adeleke Balikiz Yetunde, Udoh Stephanie and Theresa Igein, were reportedly held hostage at Oki Street, Okere Road, Ward 4 Polling Unit 19 after the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BIVAS) (BVAS) brought for the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections in the area allegedly crashed.

The angry voters had waited endlessly to exercise their civic duty since Saturday with no success as INEC staff had reneged in bringing the election materials to the area.

Following the disclosure that the BVAS machine weren’t working, the voters ordered the three ad-hoc staff not to move an inch or pay the price.

Our correspondent had earlier learnt at the INEC Secretariat at Esisi road from an official of INEC who was intimating the Electoral Officer, Mr Kingsley Ogboe, in company of DSS officials in Warri South of the hostage saga.

The INEC official reported that the three ad-hoc staff were in danger and needed urgent rescue, but couldn’t render help as they were overpowered. 

The angry voters protested and argued that the Electoral Officer in Warri South, Mr. Ogboe, appeared to have already compromised the elections in the council area, accusing him of trying to subvert the rights and will of the vote.

One of the voters alleged that the adhoc staff incurred the wrath of the people when she switched over to start administering manual voting against the acceptable norm of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BIVAS) before voting.

Lamenting her ordeal, Adeleke Balikiz Yetunde, one of ad-hoc staff said; “The BVAS clashed when were trying to reboot it. We call the RAC because they said it was a technology problem.

“They said they didn’t reconfigure it to read today (Sunday) because it was till reading yesterday (Saturday).

“So we became stuck as a result. Now they’re accusing me of collecting N50,000, I don’t know anyone here and I didn’t collect any money.

The two other adhoc staff, Udoh Stephanie and Theresa Igein, lamented that the Supervisory Polling Officers (SPO’s) dumped them at the polling units and left without security when they knew the BIVAS was not configured properly.

“We’re supposed to do the work since yesterday but because of no voting took place here, they moved the exercise to today. Alot of our colleagues pulled out and now I am regretting not pulling out, Adeleke added.

One of the community leaders, said it is unfortunate that the machine clashed saying “I can assure you that anything will happen to her.”

Another angry voter, Rev. Charles, lamented, “We have been here since yesterday when the rain started falling. We waited till night and nothing happened.

“To me the INEC officials are not been sincere to us, this is the not the way to treat citizens. Are they saying that we should leave here without voting,” he queried.

As of 6:45p.m, the three hostages were still in custody of their captors, the Yoruba lady among them, Yetunde was reportedly regretting not rejecting the casual INEC job.

Meanwhile, when contacted at about 11:16p.m, Bukola Ojeme Head, INEC’s Voter Education & Publicity, Asaba⁩, said “security agencies, at the instance of the Hon. REC, are making efforts to free the adhoc staff.”

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