Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed worry over cases of harassment, maiming and killing of its ad-hoc staff recorded during the just concluded general elections.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Fetus Okoye, stated this Thursday in Awka, during the presentation of certificates of return to 30 newly elected members of the Anambra state House of Assembly.
He said such attacks on the staff, most of who were corps members, portend great danger to the growth and development of the nation’s nascent democracy.
Okoye, who blamed the ugly development on desperate politicians, urged them to leave its staff alone and concentrate their efforts on campaigns.
He said, “The commission is worried at the rate at which ad-hoc staff of the commission are harassed, maimed and killed in the performance of their duties.
“We are fast approaching a point where parents and guardians will not be willing to their sons and daughters doing their national youth service to participate in the electoral process.
“Non-participation of our best and brightest, fresh from tertiary institutions will leave the commission with the option of harvesting its ad-hoc staff from sources whose loyalty to the national cause is questionable.”
Okoye also regretted the illegal and illicit approaches being made by some political parties and their candidates to the various officers recruited by the commission for the exercise.
“Some of these officers are recruited in strict confidentiality and yet desperate politicians go to the length to find them and corrupt them.
“To this extent, the commission will carry out internal assessment and audit of its recruitment processes and procedures with a view to better protection of those processes,” he added.
He restated the commission’s determination in canvassing for the early passage of the electoral offences commission bill at the national Assembly.
Okoye said, “We must stem impunity in the electoral process by ensuring that those that deliberately and maliciously corrupt the process are proceeded against and punished in accordance with the law.
“The absence of robust and clearly defined institutions that will be responsible for arrest, investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders has led to heightened electoral malfeasance resulting in the storming of collation centres and forcing officers to make returns at gunpoint.”
Congratulating the newly elected lawmakers on their victory, the commissioner wished them well in the task of legislating for the good governance of the state.
Earlier, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, described the certificates as symbol of the mandate of the people earned during the election.
He charged the newly elected lawmakers to fulfill the promises made to their constituents during campaigns.