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Abducted INEC officials in Bayelsa freed

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By Abraham Adekunle

Electoral commission says the incident affected election credibility.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Bayelsa has said that its officials, who were abducted at the Brass Local Government Area (LGA) Collation Centre since Saturday, November 11, 2023, have regained their freedom. INEC had in its social media handle on Twitter X expressed concern over the safety of its staff deployed to Brass LGA for the November 11 Governorship Election in Bayelsa. INEC stated that the abduction of its personnel in two incidents adversely affected the credibility of the electoral process.

News correspondents in Yenagoa learned that the officials were freed on November 13, 2023. The Head of Voter Education and Publicity at INEC State Office in Bayelsa, Mr. Wilfred Ifogah, confirmed the release of the officials. However, he said that he had no details about the number of the officials and how their release was secured. Also, the Spokesman for the state Police Command, CSP Asinim Butswat, also confirmed the report to the media.

Sustained pressure ensured release of officials.

Butswat said that the results for Brass were brought to Yenagoa and delivered to the State Collation Centre on Sunday. He said that sustained pressure from police led to the unconditional release of the officials. He also spoke on the various arrests that were made in connection with sunday electoral offenses but said that the figure was still being compiled. INEC had earlier on Sunday confirmed the release of its Supervisory Presiding Officer in Sagbama LGA, who was abducted on November 10, 2023.

Initially, the commission had reported the abduction of one of its officials in the Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. In a statement on November 10, 2023, Ifogah said that the electoral official was kidnapped while waiting to board a boat at the jetty. In a statement on its verified X account on Friday night, he said that the abduction took place as the official was waiting to board a boat at the jetty.

Statement had been released to announce the abduction.

Meanwhile, he also revealed that a boat carrying election personnel and materials to southern Ijaw LGA had capsized and result sheets were lost during the incident. “We wish to confirm that a boat carrying election personnel to registration area 17 (Koluama) in southern Ijaw LGA capsized,” the statement read. Fortunately, no life was lost as all the 12 election personnel and the boat operator were rescued. But result sheets, power banks and luggage containing personal effects of staff were lost.

According to the statement, the total number of registered voters in the affected registration areas is 5,368 and the number of PVCs collected is 5,311. It said that INEC was making efforts to ensure the conduct of elections in the affected area. The statement also contained that the INEC SPO assigned to registration area 06 (Ossioma) in Sagbama LGA was abducted while waiting to board at Amassoma jetty and that security agencies had been notified.

Commission had promised to upload guber results to portal.

After the controversial and highly debated general elections held in February 2023, INEC had promised that results for Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi gubernatorial elections will be uploaded on the commission’s Result Viewing portal. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had stated this while he was speaking with newsmen at Ward 009, LEA School, Ganaja Village, Ajaokuta LGA, Kogi. Yakubu who was in the state to monitor the mock accreditation exercise, ahead of the November 11 governorship election said that the commission would follow the laws for accreditation and results collation during the state’s elections.

Related Link

INEC Nigeria: Website

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