Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, has been linked to the ongoing row over the contamination of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s, voter register in the state.
Hon. Uche Onyeagocha, a senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for Imo East in the 2023 election, made the disclosure when he spoke Tuesday on Arise TV’s The Morning Show.
He said that the alleged contamination of the voter register may have been spearheaded by the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, in connivance with INEC officials.
According to him, “It is the case of the owl crying at night and in the morning the baby dies. If you may recall, by the end of August, Senator Hope Uzodimma boasted on TV that the APC has done very well enough to win all the 36 states in the country.
“We became concerned and decided to investigate what was giving him confidence and that was why we went in to check the records of what is going on with the PVCs registration in his ward, Omuma. And in Omuma, he suddenly increased the number of registered voters from about 9,000 to over 40,000. In fact, the total number of voters beefed into the records is about 36,000 plus.
“If you may recall, if you go to INEC’s voter register for the 2019 election, Oru East, which is the Local Government Area of Senator Hope Uzodimma had a total number of 83,600 registered voters.
“Then all of a sudden, his Omuma ward alone, which is actually a rural part of Oru East now has 46,000 registered voters. And then we started seeing names like Adesanya Nash, who was born in the year 1900 as a registered voter in the Central School, Omuma II. And we saw other people who were born in 1901, 1903, and things like that. Passport photographs that had nothing to do with INEC registration were introduced in the register.”
Onyeagocha, a former Secretary to the Imo State Government (SSG), however, challenged INEC to expose its officials behind the alleged compromise of the voter register in Omuma ward in the state.
He said it was not enough for INEC to remove fake voter profiles from the register, but must go a step further to expose officials who allegedly compromised the register.
INEC had in reaction, to allegations that the database of newly registered voters in the Imo ward had been compromised, noted that the new registrations were still undergoing a clean-up process.
The electoral umpire, through its spokesperson, Festus Okoye, explained that 3,316 ‘ineligible’ voters were detected during the ongoing clean-up exercise through its Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS).
Okoye, however, noted that contrary to the claim that the national voter register had been compromised, “no new registrant has yet been added to the Register of voters for the 2023 general election or will be included until these supplemental activities have been completed in line with the law.”
But speaking on the programme, Onyeagocha, who is a former House of Representatives member, said not until persons who allegedly injected fake voters into the register are fished out and prosecuted would Nigerians trust the process.
“What we have discovered in Imo State, particularly in Omuma ward, leaves one in a lot of doubt that this whole system has not been compromised.
“Some people don’t understand what the issues are, we are saying that there is what INEC told us that is referred to as ‘access code’ given to few individuals in their office for the purpose of gaining entry to doing anything within the voter registration process.
“That access has been broken into by some individuals who took advantage of it to get names of people that don’t exist in a particular ward called Omuma, get pictures that were not taken by INEC and loaded them in thousands in the particular ward. So, the big question is who did this? Who has the access code that was broken into? Can we identify the individuals involved so that we can remove them from INEC so that we can possibly prosecute them? Because cleaning the register (and) removing all these dubious names would at the end of the day not solve the problem because the people still have the opportunity to do something worse than that in the future,” he said.