The officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission at the Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra State have denied demanding money from people who have come to register for their Permanent Voter Card.
This is coming barely a week after a pan-Igbo socio-political organisation based in Onitsha, Ndigbo Unity Forum, had accused the INEC officials of demanding some money from registrants in the South-East zone as a condition for registering them.
Also, last weekend, a video that trended online showed a group of people who had allegedly come for their PVC registration was seen protesting at the Onitsha North LGA.
The protesters alleged that they were being asked to pay N20,000 before registering.
In the video, the protesters were heard saying that the INEC officials switched off the PVC machines and hurriedly took them inside because they refused to pay the money demanded from them.
But when our correspondent visited the INEC registration point in the area on Thursday, the electoral officer, who did not want his name mentioned, said the allegation of demanding N20,000 was not only false but politically motivated and a calculated attempt to blackmail the commission.
The electoral officer disclosed that the incident happened on the premises last Friday, while registration was going on.
He said, “The allegation that we demanded money before registering people is totally false. The incident happened last Friday and it started when some group of boys wanted to force us to register them when we have closed for the day.
“We are only occupying the premises of the local government and they instructed us not to stay beyond 5pm, which we always abide by. So, on that day, those boys came and said we must register them and even wanted to bypass those they met in the queue. And when they started the confusion, we had to quickly carry the machines inside because they are very sensitive materials.
“We have been inundated with phone calls from superior authorities and even from government circles and we have defended ourselves properly to the extent that anyone still in doubt should go round and possibly interview the registrants.”
He said they are tracing the accusers for arrest and proof of their allegations and possibly prosecution.
The state Resident Commissioner, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, said the commission was ready to work with the public to fish out and discipline any staff engaged in extortion or any other form of misconduct during the exercise.
Orji said members of the public should feel free to contact the commission for enquires and complaints using the following channel- WhatsApp- 07043528329.
“Complaints should contain specific details, including names and locations, that would aid the Commission in judicious handling of the issues, he added.