September 20, (THEWILL) – Former Secretary to the Imo State Government (SSG), Uche Onyeagocha, has challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to expose its officials behind the alleged compromise of the voter register in Omuma ward in the state.
Onyeagocha, a senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for Imo East in the 2023 election, spoke on Tuesday when he was featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show.’
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 Keyamo, 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 Omumwa 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? What 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.
Onyeagocha further suggested that the alleged contamination of the voter register may have been spearheaded by the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, in connivance with INEC officials.
He said, “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.”
The Imo East senatorial aspirant added that the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Owerri, against the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines and electronic results transmission in the 2023 election further confirms the state government’s alleged involvement.
“So, we are saying that Nigerians just have to wake up to the fact that so much is going to happen between now and the election. You have to go back to the register to check all these but a lot of work is already in the hands of INEC.
“How come it is in the electoral ward of Senator Hope Uzodimma that we are finding this kind of mess? How come it is the Federal High Court, Owerri, that they are trying to stop the use of BVAS and electronic transmission of results?”